The New Jersey Counseling Association (NJCA) urges all New Jersey voters to their elected representatives the time is now to bring Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) into the Medicare program to address the national opioid crisis and provide access to mental health and substance use services in underserved areas for Medicare beneficiaries. LPCs are limited in their opportunities to serve New Jersey residents by laws that were created prior to the enactment of Licensed Professional Counselor statutes.
Seniors are usually able to afford counseling services through employer-sponsored plans or Medicaid but once they retire or “age out”, they lose access to care. Unfortunately, Medicare beneficiaries do not enjoy the same access to outpatient mental health professionals as those with private health insurance: Medicare does not reimburse LPCs for the quality, cost-effective treatment that they provide.
An estimated 37% of seniors display symptoms of depression in a primary care environment. About 14% to 20% of the seniors have one or more mental disorders including anxiety, severe cognitive impairment, and mood disorders. Both the Wall Street Journal and the Journal for Gerontological Nursing have stated that the older adult population is the fastest growing age group for opioid misuses. It is imperative that Seniors receive the access to the treatment that is desperately needed to combat these crises.
There are more than 4,000 LPCs in New Jersey. Licensed Professional Counselors are Master’s-degreed mental health professionals, meeting education, training, experience, examination, and ethical standards on par with those of providers already covered by Medicare.
That is why we need legislation which would establish Medicare coverage of LPCs. Tell your elected officials to pass H.R. 3032 and S. 1879 – the Mental Health Access Improvement Act of 2017. Tell them to bring LPCs into the Medicare program to address the national opioid crisis and provide access to mental health and substance use services in underserved areas for Medicare beneficiaries.
The New Jersey Counseling Association is committed to working with all mental healthcare providers and advocates to improve health care and lower costs. Denying quality mental health coverage to the nearly 950,000 Medicare beneficiaries in New Jersey cannot be the foundation on which we build our health care system.
The NJCA asks that you partner with us to right this situation so that all New Jersey residents have adequate access to qualified mental healthcare professionals by ensuring Medicare recipients have access to ALL mental healthcare professionals, including LPCs.
New Jersey Counseling Association
P.O. Box 74
Cranford, New Jersey 07016
Telephone: (609) 273-9917
Fax: (908) 272-2144