Suncoast Mental Health Counselors Association

May 2022 Legislative Update

  • Friday, May 20, 2022 1:56 PM
    Message # 12788087
    Aaron Norton (Administrator)

    STATE LEGISLATION/GOVERNMENT ISSUES

    Counseling Compact

    As many of you know, the counseling compact bills (SB 358HB1521SB 590and HB 1523 passed this legislative session and were signed into law by Governor DeSantis.  We're very fortunate that he chose to sign the bill into law on 4/6/22, because if he hadn't Florida would likely not have been one of the first 10 states to join the compact, which would have resulted in us having less influence in terms of how the compact is initially set up.  

    There is currently a question as to whether we will need to pass an additional bill this coming legislative session that specifically authorizes FL to collect multi-state licensure fees,  and we hope that have that issue clarified by next legislative update.

    What happens next now that we have a counseling compact?  The first 10 states to join the compact (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, Utah, and West Virginia) will now select delegates to work with the National Center for Interstate Compacts to set up the compact, and it is estimated that it will take 12 to 18 months for the compact to start.  

    Warning About Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Letters

    At the 491 Board meeting on 5/12/22, two LCSWs were disciplined for writing emotional support animal letters without an appropriate assessment, which was considered a violation of F.S.  You can read more about those cases by clicking here and here.   We want members to be aware that they should not write ESA letters without being adequately trained about the legal, ethical, and clinical issues related to these letters.  You can download a video about this topic using these links:

    Other State Issues

    FMHCA's Government Relations Committee (GRC) is currently considering the following issues for the 2022/2023 legislative session:

    • Passing a bill to allowed collection of fees for multistate license related to counseling compact
    • Revising F.S. 916.115 to include 491 board licensees among the list of mental health professionals who can be appointed by the court for evaluations
    • Revising F.S. 491.005(1)(c) so registered interns in private practice are NOT required to have a licensed professional "on the premises" when providing telehealth
    • Replacing the term "registered mental health counselor intern" with "licensed associate mental health counselor"
    • Revising the statute to require CACREP-accredited degrees for LMHC applicants only (i.e., no MPCAC-accredited degrees)
    • Taking action against the newly passed Parental Rights in Education Bill (a.k.a. "Don't Say Gay" bill)
    Additionally, the GRC and Ethics Committees are working on a draft for a response to FL. Dept. of Health's press release entitled "Treatment of Gender Dysphoria for Children and Adolescents."


    FEDERAL LEGISLATION

    Note: If you are not already familiar with the process of how bills become federal laws, it may be helpful to review the process at https://www.usa.gov/how-laws-are-made.

    Medicare for Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists

    As noted in previous legislative updates, the Mental Health Access Improvement Act (S.828 and companion bill HR.432), if passed, will enable counselors and MFTs to bill Medicare.  We consider this bill crucial given that (a) Medicare recipients are struggling to access psychotherapy, and counselors are the single largest group of licensed therapists in the country; and (b) as long as counselors cannot bill Medicare, counselors will never truly be treated equally as our colleagues in psychology and social work, thus perpetuating the myth that counselors are somehow "less than" other professions that can bill Medicare.  Click here to learn more from our national parent chapter, the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA), about how you can support this legislation.  

    Progress:

    • S.828 was introduced to the Senate on 3/18/21.

    • HR.432 was introduced to the House on 1/21/21 referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce and Committee on Ways and Means on 1/21/21, and referred to the Subcommittee on Health on 2/2/21.

    Last modified: Friday, May 20, 2022 5:17 PM | Aaron Norton (Administrator)

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Suncoast Mental Health Counselors Association
P.O. Box 2853 Pinellas Park, Florida 33780

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