Hello, SMHCA family.
The bad news I have to share this month is that our bill, HB 941 and Senate SB 818, did not pass this legislative session. Additionally, and to the surprise of many, the DOH bill SB 1568 and HB 1565 did not pass. What does this mean? It means that (1) registered interns working in private practice settings must still have a licensed mental health professional "on the premises" when providing clinical services--including telehealth; and (2) LMHCs, LMFTs, and LCSWs are still not mentioned in F.S. 916.115 as mental health professionals who can be appointed by the court as expert witnesses. Remember that only 5 to 15% of bills are passed into law every legislative session, so try not to be too disheartened. It often takes us more than one year to get a bill passed, and we'll keep trying next year. I think it is also noteworthy that every single legislator FMHCA met with was highly supportive of our bill with one exception--Rep. William Robinson, the Chair of the Professions and Public Health Subcommittee. By not putting our bill on the agenda of his subcommittee, we had no traction in the House even though our bill was doing very well in the Senate. We met with Rep. Robinson to discuss the bill in an attempt to address his concerns. Though I believe that we were able to address those concerns adequately, he informed us that the subcommittee had other priorities for what little remained of the legislative session.
The Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling (i.e., the "491 Board") passed some new rules regarding the duties and responsibilities of a qualified supervisor in February, but these rules have not yet been written and implement. We'll give you an update when they are.
We have our eyes on the Mental Health Access Improvement Act (HR 432/S. 828), a bill that would enable LMHCs and LMFTs to bill Medicare. Let's keep our fingers crossed on this one!
SunCoast Mental Health Counselors Association
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