LOBBYING: For the 2011 legislative season, VTMHCA joined with the Vermont Psychological Association to hire a lobbying firm, Zatz & Renfrew Consulting (Gail Zatz, Virginia Renfrew and Mary Coffey), to monitor legislative activities for the 2010 and 2011 seasons as they relate to mental health.
- Reimbursement Rates: We helped address inadequate reimbursement for 90808: as of March 1, 2010, BC/BS has increased reimbursement rates for (75-90 minute) 90808. BISHCA is still working with Cigna, MVP, and Aetna to bring them into compliance.
- Medicaid: our legislative efforts helped to protect Medicaid reimbursements from what would have been even deeper cuts to providers (reduced from 4% to 2%). In addition, we continue to monitor OVHA’s intent to revise CPT code reimbursements which might reduce the allowable amount for Group Therapy billing. (90853)
- Medicare Primary / Medicaid Secondary Issue: Our efforts contributed to preserving LCMHCs’ ability to bill Medicaid for psychotherapy services, when their clients have Medicare as primary coverage. We will continue dialogue with OVHA should this issue resurface.
- Along with AMHCA we are continuing to support legislation that would allow LCMHC to bill Medicare. At this time, this matter is an unresolved part of health care reform (HR 3962, section 1308-09).
- By hiring a lobbyist and being present in the legislature VTMHCA helped slow down the sweeping momentum of the Challenges for Change policy.
Council Meetings: A monthly meeting with representatives from the, NASW-Vermont Chapter, Vermont Psychiatric Association, Vermont Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counselors Association, Vermont Association of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, policy makers, legislators, agency representatives from DMH, Office of Vermont Health Access (OVHA), insurance companies and managed care company representatives.
Participation on Act 129 task force: This task force is the product of VTMHC’s advocacy efforts and operates through the Department of Banking and Insurance, (BISHCA). It is representative of providers, consumers, and insurance companies and allows us a voice with regard to the regulation of the insurance industry as it pertains to mental health treatment. Because of our involvement with this Task Force, managed care companies are now required to disclose their financial status which allows us to address the fundamental inequities and lack of parity in mental health treatment.
- Website: our web presence allows for ease of communication between clinicians as well as being a resource for individuals seeking mental health treatment, provides useful information for our work, offers links to numerous resources.
- Continuing Education: Twice a year VTMHCA sponsors opportunities such as lectures and workshops focused on clinical practices and issues with input from our membership.
- Mental Health Awareness Week participation through public education, media presence, and screenings, to name a few of the outreach strategies of the past.
- Mental Health Advocacy Day at the state house helps to maintain an awareness of mental health concerns as they relate to the lives of all Vermonters
- Legislative Dinner: every year at the beginning of the Legislative season several board members attend a meeting of legislators and other community organizers to help raise awareness of the issues related to mental health treatment.
- Inclusion in our web based Find A Counselor Directory
- Reduced Insurance Premium throughout CPH Insurance Agency Professional Development Workshops for Continuing Education Credit – discounted tuition
- Inclusion in VTMHCA’s Membership Directory made available to state agencies, hospitals, clinics, social service providers, and other referral sources
- Legislative Updates, Initiatives and Advocacy regarding issues that pertain to counselors, including parity and vendorship
- Managed Care Information
- Statewide Advocacy for the Mental Health Counseling Profession, and links to the national advocacy effort
- Licensing Information
- Liaison with the VT Mental Health Council
- Information from the national association, the American Mental Health Counselors Association
- Consumer Education and Information
- Outreach to area students of Graduate Programs in Mental Health Counseling and Psychology
Maintenance of the Clinical Mental Health Counselor license requires continuing education and adherence to the Standards of Practice. There is no better way to stay current than to join Vermont Mental Health Counselors Association, your state’s professional organization. We are your voice. Join us! It’s your choice, it’s your profession!
- Membership offers connection with other Mental Health Counselors.
- Annual meeting and conferences bring us together to share theory and practice.
- Regional Meetings: From time to time members have met in separate regions of the state to support each other in region specific matters.
- Annual National Conference is where the president has an opportunity to meet with members of other state chapters, and educate Representatives and Senators about the mental health needs of Vermonters.
Maintenance of the Clinical Mental Health Counselor license requires continuing education and adherence to the Standards of Practice. There is no better way to stay current than to join Vermont Mental Health Counselors Association, your state’s professional organization.