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TRICARE Increases Access to Qualified Mental Health Counselors

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The TRICARE mental health benefit just got bigger. Beneficiaries can now choose between two qualified mental health counselor types: independently practicing TRICARE Certified Mental Health Counselors (TCMHC) and Supervised Mental Health Counselors (SMHC).
TRICARE will authorize TCMHCs as independent providers who meet specific qualification criteria. They must have a master’s degree from a mental health counseling program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP) and pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) by Jan. 1, 2017. TCMHCs can independently treat TRICARE beneficiaries but SMHCs will continue to practice under the referral and supervision of TRICARE-authorized physicians.
Some beneficiaries may worry they won’t be able to continue seeing their current mental health care provider under this new guidance. “This does not have to be a concern,” says Patricia G. Moseley, Ph.D., military child and family behavioral health senior policy analyst at the Defense Health Agency. “TRICARE will not phase out SMHCs but instead will continue to authorize them as TRICARE providers indefinitely.  So beneficiaries who are currently receiving treatment from a mental health counselor can continue their care with their existing provider whether that is an SMHC or a TCMHC.”
The Defense Health Agency is tasked with making military medicine stronger, better and more relevant for the future. This change moves us one step closer to that goal, ensuring the availability of well-qualified, independent providers for our beneficiaries. For more information about TRICARE mental health coverage, visit www.tricare.mil/mentalhealth.

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