Frequently Asked Questions
Council of Mental Health Counselors and Substance Abuse Professionals
The Council is a group of representatives from each of the Mental Health Associations:
- Vermont Psychological Association
- Vermont Mental Health Counselors Association
- National Association of Social Workers Vermont Chapter
- Vermont State Nurses Association Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
- Vermont Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors Association
- Vermont Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
The Council enables Vermont providers to promote their professional agenda through increased access to legislators, government agencies, task forces, and managed care companies. The Council meets periodically with the Executive Director of The Vermont Association for Mental Health (VAMH). VAMH is a strong, consumer driven organization with the capability of impacting the future of mental health services in Vermont. The Council also invites people from various government departments and agencies to discuss the concerns of providers and consumers.
As a Council representing all of the statewide mental health professional organizations, we have collectively endorsed the following common agenda of concerns and current priorities:
- Crisis in access. Despite the fact that our parity legislation is viewed as a national model, Vermonters are having more and more trouble accessing clinically appropriate and necessary mental health services.
- Crisis in funding. Funding for services in both the private and the public sector are inadequate. Recent cutbacks have caused the elimination of essential clinical programs.
- Privacy and patient confidentiality. We are committed to preserving patient confidentiality and resisting efforts to require disclosure of confidential medical information to third parties.
- Patient choice. Patients covered by Vermont private insurers and/or those who pay directly for their services should be free to select a provider of their choice rather than being directed to a limited number of providers by an insurance company or third-party payer.
- Managed care oversight. Despite the passage of legislation designed to monitor and manage the managed care industry, multiple problems persist. Enforcement of existing legislation and regulations and effective oversight of managed care must become a higher priority within the Department of Banking, Insurance Securities, and Health Care Administration.
- Collective bargaining. Mental health professionals should have the right to collectively negotiate fees and other contractual terms directly with employers, insurance companies and third-party intermediaries.
- Integration of mental health and primary care. We know that many mental health problems are first identified and treated in primary care settings. We need to enhance coordination and collaboration between mental health professionals and primary care providers.
- Integration of mental health and substance abuse services. Many patients suffer from both mental illness and substance abuse problems. Treatment is most effective when it is individualized, comprehensive and integrated.
- Universal coverage. Vermont still has over 50,000 citizens who are uninsured. We support the development of a system which would ensure coverage for all Vermonters.
- Centralized credentialing and common claims forms. Clinicians waste time and resources filling out redundant and inconsistent credentialing and claims forms. Insurance companies and managed care intermediaries should be required to utilize a centralized credentialing service to streamline the process and avoid unnecessary duplication. A common claims form would also save time, reduce the incidence of errors and improve the rate of collection.
- Electronic submission. All payers should be required to accept electronic submission of claims without charge to clinicians. Electronic submission reduces paperwork, improves accuracy and facilitates timely payment.
- Public education to combat stigma. According to the Surgeon General, the stigma associated with mental illness is still the major reason people don’t seek services. We need to work collectively to improve public and professional awareness of the signs and symptoms of mental illness. Improved recognition leads to appropriate referral and effective treatment.
Not to be confused with VTMHCA, the Vermont Association for Mental Health is one of the state’s oldest and largest citizens’ advocacy groups in Vermont. This fall, the Association will celebrate its 67th anniversary as a citizen voice on behalf of mental health and behavioral health care issues.
While the Association has constantly provided public education material, whether it be through major conferences, meetings or specialized forums, the VAMH, over the past twenty-four years has established a place and a presence in the Statehouse.
The Association always works hard on the appropriations budget for it impacts and even dictates social policy around mental health and substance abuse treatment, prevention and recovery. In 1997, the Association led the charge for passage of Vermont’s Parity Bill for Mental Health and Substance Abuse. Today, this legislation is still seen as the most progressive in the country. The VAMH was also highly engaged in the campaign to realize the concept of parity at Fletcher Allen Health Care as the state’s leading hospital initially considered moving psychiatric care off the main campus.
The Vermont Association for Mental Health also has one direct service project called Camp Daybreak. For decades, Daybreak has been one of the few summer options for families and for young Vermont children who are coping with serious mental health issues.
Rule 10 is the comprehensive regulation overseeing any managed health care in Vermont. It covers a host of topics about what the insurance companies can and must do. It is considered one of the best consumer protection systems vis a vis managed care in the country. For more information http://www.bishca.state.vt.us/
National Alliance on Mental Illness of Vermont (NAMIVT)
It’s important that your current address be up-to-date at the Secretary of State’s Office where your license is regulated.
Ms. Dianne LaFaille, Staff Assistant
Secretary of State’s Office
Board of Allied Mental Health Practitioners
National Life Building
Montpelier VT 05602-3402
Phone: (802) 828-2390
e-mail: Dianne LaFaille
Also, please keep VTMHCA updated with your address.