National News

Save Education Jobs Act of 2021

On Thursday, January 28, 2021, Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05) introduced the Save Education Jobs Act of 2021. This legislation would save nearly 4 million education jobs, spur economic growth in the midst of an economic crisis and help mitigate the impacts of students’ learning loss as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specifically, the bill would:

• Deliver up to $261 billion to states and school districts over 10 years. This relief would save up to 3.9 million education jobs, including 2.6 million teacher jobs as well as the jobs of school counselors, paraprofessionals, social workers, school psychologists, nurses, bus drivers, maintenance workers and more from budget cuts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

• Guarantee funding to all states for at least six years or until the national unemployment rate falls to 5.5 percent or below (if later). Thereafter, the legislation would provide additional funding up to fiscal year 2030 for individual states that continue to experience high unemployment. 

 • Allow state educational agencies to reserve up to 5 percent of funding to retain or create positions in early childhood, K-12 and higher education, and ensure that low-income students and students of color are not disproportionally taught by ineffective, out-of-field or inexperienced teachers.

• Require school districts to use at least 90 percent of funding to pay the salaries and benefits of teachers, school leaders and other school personnel. This funding can be used to recall or rehire former employees, retain existing employees and hire new employees in order to provide early childhood, elementary or secondary educational related services.

• Permit school districts to use up to 10 percent of funding to support teacher training and professional development, high-quality residency programs and better teacher pay for extended school time to address learning loss. 

• Ensure continued funding for K-12 education and high poverty districts with strong maintenance of effort and maintenance of equity requirements.  

“Despite the heroic work of our educators, we know that COVID-19 has undone months of academic gains, exacerbated existing disparities, increased student mental health needs, and left far too many students behind,” said Congresswoman Hayes. “The cuts we are already seeing throughout the country, and can expect to continue seeing in the future, are devastating for students and the future of public education. We need to invest in more supports, not less, to ensure that schools can meet these needs and challenges during and after the pandemic.”

 

Representatives Mike Thompson and John Katko Re-Introduce the Mental Health Access Improvement Act

Jan 25, 2021
This bipartisan bill addresses mental health care gap for seniors by expanding the network of provider that can deliver mental and behavioral health services to Medicare beneficiaries.

On January 21, 2021, Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05) and Rep. John Katko (NY-24) announced the reintroduction of the Mental Health Access Improvement Act. This bipartisan bill addresses mental health care gap for seniors by expanding the network of provider that can deliver mental and behavioral health services to Medicare beneficiaries.

“Often seniors are at a greater risk for mental illnesses and can find it hard to get access to the mental health services they need. That’s why I’ve reintroduced my bill to help close the gap for seniors by allowing them to see a wider range of qualified mental health care providers through Medicare,” said Thompson. “When we address these mental health care needs, we help ensure they don’t lead to greater health problems that can be costly for our nation’s seniors. I am glad to again introduce this important bill and to continue my work caring for the health and well-being of older Americans.”

“I’m proud to join my colleague Rep. Thompson in re-introducing the Mental Health Access Improvement Act. This important bipartisan legislation would improve access to mental healthcare for older Americans and alleviate the strain on our nation’s mental health and addiction treatment workforce,” said Katko. “At home in Central New York and in Congress, I’ll continue fighting to ensure individuals and families have access to the care they need.”

Under current regulations, psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers and psychiatric nurses are currently recognized to offer covered mental health services under Medicare. This does not include mental health counselors and marriage & family therapists who have the same training and education but are not able to be reimbursed by Medicare. This bill closes that gap by adding those providers to the list of those accessible to Medicare beneficiaries. 

The American Counseling Association has been advocating for the inclusion of licensed professional counselors for years. Last year, we gained bi-partisan support for the bill with 123 co-sponsors in the House and 31 co-sponsors in the Senate. Through our advocacy efforts, we were also able to get the Mental Health Access Improvement Act voted out of the House Energy & Commerce Committee. As we continue to push for the full inclusion of licensed professional counselors under Medicare, we will keep you updated.

If you have questions or would like to become involved in ACA’s advocacy efforts, please contact the ACA Government Affairs and Public Policy team at [email protected].


Below are a few resources from ACA.

ACA Support Access to Mental Health Services for Seniors

ACA Medicare MH Coverage Gap-Executive Summary DRAFT

How to Advocate.pdf

SDCA, SDSCA, and SDMHCA is not always at liberty to take a stance on all issues, we do encourage our members (and really all citizens) to become informed and to share their viewpoints with their elected officials. We encourage you to take part of any open forums in your areas as well, as this is a great way to be heard on a local level.

Please see the following links for contact information as well as tips for reaching out to senators and representatives. 

We sincerely thank you for your advocacy efforts.
SDCA Executive Committee

For current national issues and what you can do to help go to: https://www.counseling.org/government-affairs/public-policy. This is available to ACA members and non-members alike. Check out information regarding:

  • Medicare Coverage of LPCs.
  • Mental Health Providers in the VA.
  • Reducing student to counselor ratios through the Student Support Act.

For information about the US Congress and the national legislative process, go to Congress.gov at http://beta.congress.gov/ and find out how:

  • To search bills by topic, bill number, or title.
  • To locate updated contact information for our Senators and Representatives.

Please feel free to contact your Government Relations Committee with questions or concerns.