The Government Affairs and Public Policy team advocates for American Counseling Association members and the counseling profession to increase the credibility and recognition of professional counselors among policymakers and regulators as highly qualified practitioners and experts on a range of mental health-related issues, from Medicare reimbursement and licensure portability to career development and funding for all counselors in various practice settings.
This advocacy update provides an overview of select key legislation. To learn about all the legislation ACA is following, visit our Take Action page.
The Jobs Act of 2023
The Jumpstarting Our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act of 2023 (S. 161/H.R. 793) is bipartisan legislation introduced by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and cosponsored by Democrats and Republicans to help more Americans get good-paying jobs by allowing students to use federal Pell Grants to afford high-quality, shorter-term job training programs.
Specifically, the JOBS Act would amend federal law to:
- Expand Pell Grant eligibility to students enrolled in rigorous and high-quality, short-term skill building and job training programs that lead to industry-recognized credentials.
- Define eligible programs to include training that meets the needs of the local or regional workforce and industry partnerships.
- Streamline the ability to transfer credits so students can pursue continuing education in their careers.
- Allow students with licenses, certifications or credentials to meet the hiring requirements of multiple employers in the field for which the job training is offered and aligns with the skill needs of industries in the state or local economy.
The JOBS Act would help close the skills gap and provide workers with the job training and credentials that they need for success in high-demand fields.
Mental health access and gun violence prevention act
The Mental Health Access and Gun Violence Prevention Act of 2023 (H.R. 46), introduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), would increase access to mental health care treatment and promote reporting of mental health information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
To contact your member of Congress and urge them to support ACA’s legislative efforts, please visit ACA’s Take Action page.
Medicare reimbursement update
ACA continues to engage with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to discuss the implementation of the Medicare Access Improvement Act (see “The Mental Health Access Improvement Act has passed. Now what?” in the March 2023 issue of Counseling Today). Our goal is to represent our members’ interests and work with CMS to ensure equitable, consistent and adequate compensation and reimbursement for appropriately educated, trained and credentialed and licensed counselors in all practice settings.
To stay up to date on ACA’s Medicare implementation activities, please visit our Medicare Mental Health Workforce Coalition page.
As of this writing, 18 states, including Wyoming, have enacted the interstate Counseling Compact. In three additional states — Arkansas, North Dakota and Virginia — the compact has been passed in both houses and is awaiting the signature of the governor. The 17 states that previously enacted the compact are Georgia, Maryland, Alabama, Mississippi, Utah, West Virginia, Maine, Florida, Kentucky, Nebraska, Tennessee, Colorado, Louisiana, Ohio, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Delaware.
The compact has been introduced this session in a number of other states, some continuously. These states include Arizona, Connecticut, Florida (fee language), Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont and Washington.
By early 2024, the privilege to practice will be available to counselors in member states through the Compact Commission. Continue to follow ACA’s progress on the Counseling Compact and learn more about it at counselingcompact.org.
Licensure board vacancies
The road to professional licensure for counselors, as mandated by each state’s licensure board, includes but is not limited to:
- Years of schooling
- More than 1,000 hours of supervised clinical experience
- Passing jurisprudence exams
- Background checks
- Filing applications
- Continuing education hours/credits
Licensure boards have a broad scope of authority over who is granted a license to practice and how the counseling profession functions in that state, commonwealth or territory. Licensure boards are created primarily for three purposes: issuing licenses to practice, handling consumer and ethical complaints regarding counselors’ practice, and issuing and enforcing regulations as necessary in overseeing the profession. In some cases, one board is responsible for overseeing the practice of counseling and one or more similar groups of professionals (e.g., clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists).
Serving on a licensure board is an opportunity for a professional counselor to help shape the counseling profession on issues such as licensure requirements, licensure portability (interstate Counseling Compact) and continuing education. At least two states have board members with terms expiring in 2023:
- Ohio. The Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage and Family Therapist Board appointment application is available online at governor.ohio.gov/administration/boards-and-commissions/boards-and-commissions-application2021. For additional information, see cswmft.ohio.gov/about-the-board/CSWMFT-board-members.
- Virginia. The Virginia Board of Counseling appointment application is available online at cov-boardappointments.azurewebsites.net. For more information about terms ending June 30, see tinyurl.com/5n978w5t.
To learn more about state licensure board vacancies and opportunities, visit ACA’s state licensing website.
Contact the ACA Government Affairs and Public Policy staff at email@example.com.
Opinions expressed and statements made in articles appearing on CT Online should not be assumed to represent the opinions of the editors or policies of the American Counseling Association.