Additional Professional Issues

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This page is dedicated to the issues that are not related to legislation or insurance reimbursement.  We will use the same "need" and "triage" levels in order to simplify the advocacy process.

 Value to Profession:

 4 - Very Important
 3 - Needed
 2 - Is of limited value
 1 - Not needed
Triage Levels:

  - High - Needs to be acted on immediately
  - Moderate - Needs action over a period of time as                              instructed
  - Low - Little chance of movement or passage of bill
Lack of Civil Service titles for Mental Health practitioners  

The state Civil Service department has not yet created job titles for mental health practitioners. This prevents us from being hired for certain jobs in state agencies.  Attempts by our lobbyists to contact Civil Service were largely ignored until recently. Even if a meeting could be set up to discuss this issue, CS might be reluctant to create job descriptions until our diagnosis issue is resolved.
Value to Professions:  4
Triage Level:  Moderate
We urge you to share with us information you might have about these issues, or issues not listed here, so we can add to our knowledge base.  The descriptions below are outlines of the issues and cannot go into the depth needed to fully explain the issues and what needs to be done to resolve them.
Privileged Communication

Mental Health Practitioners do not have privileged communication.  That means our client records can be subpoenaed by the courts and we would have no recourse but to share them.  All of the other mental health professions have privilege and it is important that we also be included.  In a recent report to the governor and legislature the State Education Department recommended that Mental Health Practitioners also have privilege, but since our diagnosis issue takes precedence the professions are not yet working on resolving this issue.
Value to Professions:  3
Triage Level: Moderate
Exclusion from NYS Early Intervention Programs

Early Intervention is a program that treats children with diagnosed developmental issues.  The state administrators are still not convinced that LMHC's have been trained to work with the 0-3 years age group.  More information needs to be gathered before moving forward.
Value to Profession:  2-3
Triage Level: Moderate
Exclusion from NYS Safe Act

The Safe Act was drafted by the governor's office and passed quickly after the massacre of children and teachers in Connecticut.  LMSW's and Mental Health Practitioners were excluded.  That means we are not mandated to report a client who appears to intend to do harm to themselves or others and who has firearms.  The value of this ill-conceived law has yet to be determined.

In response to our exclusion from the law, in 2013 Assemblyman Kellner introduced legislation that would mandate our reporting clients we determine to be dangerous.  This bill needs to be reintroduced for 2015 and still does not have a Senate version, which means it is not moving for the time being.
Value to Profession:  3
Triage Level:  Moderate
Lack of Mental Health Practitioners Hired by the NYS Prison System

​When a profession is newly licensed it takes several years for state agencies and systems to catch up with the additions to the list of qualified providers.  This seems to be the case with the prison system. State administrators need to be educated regarding the services provided by Mental Health Practitioners so we may be hired in clinical positions.  The lack of Civil Service titles could also be an issue here.  We need a lot more information on this issue.
Value to Professions:  3
Triage Level: Moderate
Hiring of LMHC's by the Veterans Administration

This is a national issue and is very complicated.  The VA has national standards for education and licensing of mental health professionals but there seems to be great disparities from state to state on how that is done. We have discovered that there are even disparities from upstate NY to downstate in terms of how potential employees are vetted and at what levels they are hired.

NYMHCA is in need of a clearer picture of exactly what the issues are and what is needed to overcome them. The national counseling organizations are continually meeting with the VA in order to rectify certain issues at the federal level, but it has been indicated that here in NY, the lack of clarity around our authority to diagnose could be one of the reasons more LMHC's are not hired.
Value to Profession:  3
Triage Level:  Moderate
Lack of Medicare Provider Status: Bill HR.3662  (See update below/left)

The lack of provider status in Medicare has been a problem for NY's mental health counselors for many years.  The national counseling associations have worked diligently to find sponsors of many different bills over the years and currently there are 2 bills that are about to be reintroduced.  The national counseling organizations are working collaboratively with the AAMFT (American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists) and both professions are cited in the bills.

To learn more about the bills and how you can help with this effort, go to:
2014 Congressional Hearings Regarding Mental Health Services at the VA  - LMHC's and LMFT's and their inclusion as providers is discussed.
Medicare Update:  3/15

The five bills to provide Medicare reimbursement to
counselors died when the 113th Congress adjourned in 2014. The coalition allies are preparing for reintroduction of bipartisan Senate and House bills in the 114th Congress. It is anticipated that a health care vehicle may materialize this year, providing an opportunity to obtain passage of this important legislation.  Grassroots advocacy support will be needed as the process unfolds.