February 2023 Legislative Update

  • Tuesday, February 21, 2023 8:33 PM
    Message # 13106410
    Aaron Norton (Administrator)

    State Legislative Update

    Great news!  Senator Danny Burgess filed SB 700, which, if passed, will:

    • Revise F.S. 916.115 to include 491 board licensees among the list of health professionals who can be appointed by the court for evaluations and expert witness testimony on various mental health-related matters for criminal cases
    • Revise  F.S. 491.005(1)(c) such that registered interns in private practice are NOT required to have a licensed professional "on the premises" when providing telehealth
    • Replace the term "registered mental health counselor intern" with "licensed associate mental health counselor" to (a) be consistent with verbiage used in most other states, and (b) reduce confusion among lawmakers, professionals, and the public, who often associate the word "intern" with college students
    • Add mental health counselors to the list of professionals whose services can be funded through the Family Empowerment Scholarship Program.

    We are still seeing a sponsor for the House version of the bill.  Stay tuned for more updates!

    Federal Legislative Update

    As you probably know, the Mental Health Access Improvement Act was passed via the fiscal year (FY) 2023 omnibus package H.R.2617, titled the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023, and the act has been signed into law by President Biden.  Effective 1/1/24, counselors and marriage and family therapists will be eligible to file claims as Medicare providers.  Between now and then, AMHCA and NBCC will be advising CMS while rules are written about counselors and Medicare.  We are concerned that CMS may restrict counselors to CPT codes related to psychotherapy, possibly excluding CPT codes for psychological testing.  If this were to happen, TriCare and commercial insurance companies could use CMS's rules to justify excluding counselors from reimbursement for testing, and parties wishing to exclude counselors from testing may use those rules to lobby for statutes excluding counselors from testing.  Conversely, if CMS permits counselors access to testing codes, the scope of practice for counselors may be protected (and perhaps expanded in some state).  We will continue monitoring this issue and providing updates.

SunCoast Mental Health Counselors Association

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