January 2020 Legislative Update

  • Thursday, January 16, 2020 9:40 PM
    Message # 8596608
    Aaron Norton (Administrator)

    Federal Legislation

    • The Mental Health Access Improvement Act (Senate Bill 286 and HR945), which would allow licensed counselors nationwide to bill Medicare, are still both in committee.  AMHCA has called on all licensed counselors to contact their legislators and urge them to support the bill.  Click here for more info on how to help.  The ACA announced that there are now more than 100 co-sponsors of the bill.
    • NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals, has called upon substance abuse counselors to support the Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act, which "provides state and local governments with $100 billion in federal funding over ten years to expand access to evidence-based treatment and recovery support services. The bill also recognizes the importance of workforce development by authorizing $500 million in workforce development funding for professionals treating substance use disorders."  Click here for more info.
    • The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act (HR4194/S2661), which would establish a national hotline for suicide prevention similar to the 911 system, are both still in committee.

    State Legislation

    • FMHCA and its lobbyist have gotten both a senate and house sponsor for a licensure portability bill here in Florida.  Both the Senate Bill (S782)  and House Bill (HB1143) have been filed.  The same licensure portability verbiage appears in SB 230/HB 713, an omnibus health department bill that has high expectations of passing this year.  In October, we published an article in FMHCA’s InSession Magazine on why licensure portability is so important in Florida as well as an overview of the National Counselor Licensure Endorsement Process (NCLEP 2.0), which AMHCA, NBCC, AASCB, and ACES all jointly developed.  Read that article by clicking here.  
    • S0282 has been filed in the Senate.  If passed, this bill would require all 491 licensees (including registered interns) to specify their titles on their professional social media pages.
    • Some of you may recall that in August 2018 FMHCA warned us about F.S. 456.072(1)(k), which when cross-referenced with F.S. 491.009(1)(w) enables healthcare professionals to be fined and to have their licensed revoked for failing to repay student loans.  House Bill 0077 has been introduced and, if passed, it would prevent the State from revoking licenses in this scenario.  
    • HB41/SB180 have been filed.  If passed, these bills would prohibit licensed healthcare professions from providing conversion/reparative therapy for minors.  Equality Florida wrote FMHCA and asked for its support of the bill (see their talking points by clicking here).  As President of FMHCA, I wrote a letter clarifying that FMHCA is a chapter of AMHCA (click here to read it), and that AMHCA has an official position opposing reparative therapy (read it here).  I then referred the request for support to the FMHCA Government Relationship Committee (GRC), which reviewed the bill and voted to officially support it.  Read the FMHCA press release by clicking here. We just published an article in FMHCA’s InSession Magazine this month that provides more information about this bill as well as an update on licensure portability and discussion of the issue of the use of the term “psychological” in Florida.  Read it by clicking here
    • HB209 has been introduced, and if passed it would provide additional regulation regarding emotional support animals and housing.
    • The 491 Board is piloting a new program called "Licensing Lucy," which would enable LMHCs and student/interns to do an automated check to see if they are missing anything in terms of documentation for licensure or renewal.  Stay tuned for an announcement.
    • The Dept. of Health is piloting an artificial intelligence (AI) system that would provide answers to frequently asked questions on the 491 board website.  Right now, the AI technology is being piloted by the pharmacy board.  Stay tuned for updates.  

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