November 2023 Update

  • Thursday, November 16, 2023 11:57 AM
    Message # 13280332
    Aaron Norton (Administrator)

    Update on Primary Legislative Priorities for 2024 Legislative Session

    Issue #1: Renaming Registered Interns and Interns Needing a Licensed Professional "on the Premises" for Clinical Services

    In our October 2023 Legislative Update, we announced that SB 210 had been filed by Senator Burgess. 

    If passed, this bill will rename "registered mental health counselor interns" as "licensed associate mental health counselors." 

    We believe this title change will (1) contribution to the universalization of counseling terminology, as more states use "licensed associate" verbiage than "intern" verbiage, (2) clear up confusion among the public, allied health practitioners, and legislators who mistakenly believe that registered interns are college students, and (3) render the statute requiring registered interns who work in private practice to have a licensed mental health professional on the premises when providing clinical services (even if those services are delivered via telehealth) obsolete. 

    However, all other requirements for interns remain the same (i.e., must have a qualified supervisor, meet with supervisor at least once every 2 weeks, provide at least 1,500 hours of face-to-face psychotherapy and 100 hours of face-to-face supervision in no less than 100 weeks, etc.). 

    Although it hasn't been filed yet, we have secured a verbal commitment from Rep. Koster to file the house companion bill, and we're feeling very optimistic about this bill.

    FMHCA's GRC has formed a subcommittee that is working on creating a training teaching FMHCA/SMHCA members how to meet with/contact legislators to support this bill and others, so stay tuned for updates.

    Issue #2: Adding 491 Board Licensees to List of Healthcare Professionals the Court Can Appoint as Experts in Criminal Cases

    Currently, F.S. 916.115 reads, "To the extent possible, the appointed experts shall have completed forensic evaluator training approved by the department, and each shall be a psychiatrist, licensed psychologist, or physician."  This requirement applies when the court is appointing experts "to determine the mental condition of a defendant in a criminal case, including competency to proceed, insanity, involuntary placement, and treatment."  We believe this outdated statute (which we believe to have originally been written in 1980, 7 years before Florida started licensing counselors) needs to be updated to include the 491 Board professions, as (1) our scope of practice permits us to diagnose and treat mental disorders, (2) the majority of licensed mental health professionals in Florida are 491 board licensees, (3) there are shortages of forensic mental health experts in some judicial circuits in Florida, and (4) our unique training and expertise can be helpful in the court system.  We are communicating with legislators in an effort to include this statutory update in a criminal justice bill and will apprise members of our progress.

    Other Bills of Importance

    FMHCA's GRC is also monitoring and analyzing the following bills that are relevant to our profession:

    SB 66: Naloxone Awareness Day

    Naloxone Awareness Day; Citing this act as “Victoria’s Law”; designating June 6 of each year as “Naloxone Awareness Day”; authorizing the Governor to issue an annual proclamation; encouraging the Department of Health to hold events to raise awareness of the dangers of opioid overdose and the availability and safe use of naloxone as an effective way to rapidly reverse the effects of opioid overdose, etc.

    SB 68: Social Work Licensure Compact

    Social Work Licensure Compact; Creating the Social Work Licensure Compact; specifying requirements for state participation in the compact; requiring member states to designate the categories of social work licensure which are eligible for issuance of a multistate license in such states; establishing the Social Work Licensure Compact Commission; providing for commission enforcement of the compact, etc.

    SB 70: Public Records and Meetings/Social Work Licensure Compact

    Public Records and Meetings/Social Work Licensure Compact; Providing an exemption from public records requirements for certain information held by the Department of Health or the Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling pursuant to the Social Work Licensure Compact; authorizing the disclosure of such information under certain circumstances; providing an exemption from public records requirements for recordings, minutes, and records generated during the closed portions of such meetings; providing for future legislative review and repeal of the exemptions; providing statements of public necessity, etc.

    SB 164: Solutions for Mental Health Professional Shortages

    Solutions for Mental Health Professional Shortages; Establishing a mental health profession scholarship and loan forgiveness program within the Department of Health for a specified purpose; providing for applicant eligibility and the award of scholarships; specifying service obligations for scholarship recipients; providing for applicant eligibility and the award of loan repayments, etc.

    SB 252: Psychiatric Treatments

    Psychiatric Treatments; Defining the terms “electroconvulsive treatment” and “psychosurgical procedure”; providing that only a physician may perform electroconvulsive treatment and psychosurgical procedures; prohibiting the performance of electroconvulsive treatment and psychosurgical procedures on minors, etc.

    Medicare Rules Update

    This email was sent by NBCC's Government Affairs office on 11/3/23:

    We are excited to announce that on Nov. 2, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued the 2024 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) final rule.  This means that individuals who meet the MFT or MHC eligibility requirements embodied in the Final Rule can begin submitting their enrollment applications today via the Form CMS-855I application to be reimbursed for their services starting Jan. 1, 2024!

    The MPFS is an annual Medicare regulation that lists the fees used by the program to pay providers for their services. It begins each year as a proposed schedule but does not become government policy until the final rule is published in the Federal Register. The MPFS also contains specific instructions for practitioners on how to enroll in the program. You can read the summary of its key provisions here

    You can also learn more about your next steps and additional resources by attending “Medicare 601: The Enrollment Process for Counselors and MFTs” on Nov. 17 from noon to 1:15 pm EST. This free webinar, brought to you by NBCC and the Medicare Mental Health Workforce Coalition, will feature a representative from CMS who will describe the enrollment process and respond to questions from attendees. Those who attend the live event can earn one hour of continuing education credit.

    Register for the webinar today!

    After a long advocacy effort and passage of the Mental Health Access Improvement Act, MHCs and MFTs have finally become recognized providers in the nation’s largest health insurance program. This is an incredible accomplishment that will expand access to much-needed mental health services.

    Other Activities of the GRC in the Past Month
    This month, FMHCA's GRC has also:
    • Formed a subcommittee that is working on an counseling degree program accreditation and NCMHCE pass rate tool (which will be shared with the 491 Board)
    • Represented FMHCA at a the 491 Board meeting on 11/8
    • Met with the Chair of FCA's Public Policy Committee to discuss legislative priorities and FMHCA's efforts to educate members about issues impacting LGBTQI+ clients
    • Formed a subcommittee that's working on training members on lobbying activities
    • Formed a subcommittee that has been assessing a request from FPA to endorse an approach to addressing mental health crises in schools

    Last modified: Thursday, February 15, 2024 12:31 PM | Aaron Norton (Administrator)

SunCoast Mental Health Counselors Association

is a 501(c) 6 non-profit organization.

Copyright © 2016. All Rights Reserved

P.O. Box 2853 Pinellas Park, FL 33780

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software