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HomeLegislative Updates

Attention members!  Great news!  Your advocacy is having an impact!  ACA and its membership have been advocating over the past few weeks for the Fiscal Year 2019 Labor, HHS, Education appropriations bill - which contains many programs favorable to the counseling profession.


A few of these programs include:

  • A $10 million demonstration project at the Department of Education for partnerships with 'high needs' school districts to address school based mental health issues.
  • $ 75 million for the Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (BHWET) Program, which aims to develop and expand the behavioral health workforce serving populations across the lifespan, including in rural and medically underserved areas.
  • $63.87 million for the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative (NCTSI), which improves treatment and services for children, adolescents, and families who have experienced traumatic events.

The Senate is expected to vote on a final version of this bill this week and the House should vote next week.  Please contact your Senators and Representatives to ask them to support the Fiscal Year 2019 Labor, HHS, Education Conference Report!

If you are an ACA member, click the link below to log in and send your message:

We want to support continued advocacy for our profession.  Please take a few moments to do this.

Carissa Lopez-Bockus, MS, LMHCA
President Elect
Indiana Counseling Association

ICA Legislative Report – January 21, 2017 


Prepared by Dr. Matthias Beier (Christian Theological Seminary), ICA Legislative Chair 


National Legislative Matters

American Counseling Association statement, Jan. 19, 2017

ACA and Cities Thrive Coalition Urge Congressional Leadership Not to Dismantle the Affordable Care Act

The American Counseling Association has joined with over 100 mayors and other partners in the Cities Thrive Coalition in urging leaders in Congress to “build upon, not tear down, the progress that has been made to our behavioral health system through the Affordable Care Act.”

In a letter to Senators McConnell and Schumer, Congressman Ryan, and Congresswoman Pelosi, coalition members emphasized the following:

With one in five Americans suffering from a mental health related issue, and those with mental illness disproportionately represented among the uninsured, the reforms brought about by the ACA were a monumental turning point. The ACA created numerous protections for our residents with mental illness and addiction, including:

  • Expanding mental health substance use disorder benefits and parity
  • Providing coverage for preventive services, like screening for depression and other behavioral assessments at no additional cost
  • Preventing insurers from denying coverage based upon pre-existing conditions
  • Adding mental health and addiction treatment to the ten essential health benefits
  • Allowing for prescription coverage for behavioral health treatments
  • Expanding Medicaid, which has allowed 11 million people to gain access to mental health and addiction treatments.

The letter stated that eliminating these reforms would create dire consequences for vulnerable citizens who would be faced with the sudden inability to pay for mental health services because of both the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the loss of Medicaid Expansion funds. The letter concluded by saying, “We look forward to working with you and your colleagues to continue to move our behavioral health system forward for all Americans.”

Cities Thrive is a new national mental health coalition committed to driving mental health reform on a local and national level across the country. Elected officials, public health advocates, mental health professionals, and healthcare associations have joined together to advocate for improved mental health programs and to share what works in their jurisdictions and practices.

The American Counseling Association is working with coalitions—as the nation’s leading voice on counseling—to let the incoming Administration know the importance of counselors in improving the mental health of millions of Americans, and the importance of the federal programs now in place to providing access to counseling services. 

AMHCA Calls on Congress to Protect Federal Parity Law (

James Finley, Associate Executive Director/Director of Public Policy, AMHCA, reports to counselors that national mental health advocacy organizations are concerned that Congress may fail to protect federal laws requiring mental health parity as it rushes to eliminate Obamacare beginning next month. A large coalition of national groups has joined together to help protect the current federal parity law. The AMHCA statement says: "We urge you to protect the progress Congress has made on parity under MHPEA, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the 21st Century Cures Act."


Indiana Legislative Matters

More details available at the Indiana General Assembly website

Senate Bill 125 Appropriation for mental health provider loan forgiveness.

Introduced Senate Bill (S)

Authored by Sen. Jean Breaux.

Co-Authored by Sen. Jon Ford.

Under current law, the Mental Health and Addiction Services Development Programs Board administers the Loan Forgiveness Account. However, to date of this fiscal note, no funds have been placed into the account.

This bill would appropriate $500,000 for the state fiscal year beginning July 1, 2017, and $500,000 for the state fiscal year beginning July 1, 2018, to the division of mental health and addiction (division) for deposit in the mental health and addiction services loan forgiveness account, to be used by the division for purposes of providing loan repayments for certain mental health professionals.

Senate Bill 63 Community mental health center telemedicine pilot.

Introduced Senate Bill (S)

Authored by Sen. Randall Head, Sen. Ed Charbonneau.

Establishes a two year community mental health center telemedicine pilot program (program) to be administered by the division of mental health and addiction (division). Provides that the purpose of the program is to provide mental health counseling and services to children through the use of telemedicine. Sets forth requirements for the program and for participation in the program. Requires the reporting of certain information. Allows a physician providing telemedicine services in the program to prescribe any prescription drug for a patient that is within the physician's scope of practice for the treatment of the patient's mental health. Specifies that the physician may not prescribe an abortion inducing drug. Requires the division to submit a report to the general assembly concerning the effectiveness of the program. Specifies that a physician is not required to have a prior established physician-patient relationship in order to provide telemedicine services in Indiana.


Senate Bill 389 Forensic treatment services grants.

Introduced Senate Bill (S)

Authored by Sen. Jean Breaux.

Adds individuals who are in the juvenile justice system as individuals who may receive mental health and addiction forensic treatment services (services). Removes the age requirement for eligibility to receive the services.

Senate Bill 419 Community mental health centers.

Introduced Senate Bill (S)

Authored by Sen. James Merritt.

Removes requirements for administrative rules concerning geographic primary service areas for community mental health centers. Provides that the county executive shall designate which community mental health centers are to receive funding from the county. Specifies that the county executive may designate a community mental health center to receive funding from the county even if that community mental health center is not designated by the division of mental health and addiction as the community mental health center for the county's geographic primary service area. Provides that in the case of a county served by only one community mental health center that is designated for funding by the county, the maximum appropriation for the operating budget of the community mental health center is equal to: (1) the operating budget of the community mental health center (reduced by certain noncounty funding sources); multiplied by (2) the ratio of: (A) the part of the population of the county that is served by the community mental health center; divided by (B) the total county population. Provides that in the case of a county served by more than one community mental health center that is designated for funding by the county, the county executive shall determine the allotment to each of those community mental health centers. Makes technical corrections.

Senate Bill 435 Mental health education and screenings.

Introduced Senate Bill (S)

Authored by Sen. Frank Mrvan.

Requires a school corporation's health education curriculum to include mental health wellness education. Provides that the governing body of a school corporation may provide mental health screenings to students. Provides that the department of education shall provide a school corporation with resources regarding mental health wellness up