Washington, DC – June 24, 2011 – The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2011, signed in January 2011, directed the Department of Defense (DoD) to adopt regulations allowing licensed mental health counselors (LMHCs) to practice independently under the TRICARE program. The Act gave DoD until June 20th of this week to issue rules implementing the requirement, but DoD has now missed the deadline, making it impossible to implement the directive. Presently, we are hearing uncertain estimates of when the rule may be released, ranging from six to 18 months.
AMHCA has led LMHCs in encouraging the DoD to adopt regulations implementing the rule, which will make it easier for beneficiaries to gain access to needed care. However, we have also called on DoD to adopt more inclusive regulations that will recognize a wider array of qualified LMHCs than a recently adopted standard set in a separate VA administrative procedure.
AMHCA will continue to work with the DoD to ensure the regulations are more inclusive than the VA LMHC eligibility standard, and AMHCA is closely monitoring the agency's activity on this matter. For more information or if you have questions, contact James Finley, AMHCA's director of public policy, at firstname.lastname@example.org.