Suncoast Mental Health Counselors Association

April 2020 Legislative Update

  • Tuesday, April 14, 2020 11:40 PM
    Message # 8900775
    AARON NORTON (Administrator)

    State Legislation

    • FMHCA successfully advocated for the 491 board to pass an emergency rule permitting registered interns to provide telehealth, count telehealth hours towards their 1,500 hours of face-to-face psychotherapy, and attend 100% of their supervision hours through webcam now through 7/2/20.  Unfortunately, the 491 board does not have the power to circumvent the Florida Statute that requires registered interns in private practice settings to have a licensed mental professional on the premises while clinical services are being provided.  For this reason, FMHCA recently drafted a letter to Florida's Office of the Attorney General in an attempt to get clarification and/or a suspension of enforcement of the statute during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Read the letter here.  Let's keep our fingers crossed!
    • As I announced last month, FMHCA's licensure portability language was included in SB 230/HB 713, which was passed by the legislature.  The bill has not yet been signed into law by Governor DeSantis but is expected to be.  If the bill is not signed into law by 7/1, it will automatically become law (unless the governor vetoes it).  This bill moves Florida closer to AMHCA's National Counselor Licensure Endorsement Process (NCLEP 2.0).  If enough states pass NCLEP 2.0-compatible legislation, the path can be made for an interstate compact, which would make it very easy for counselors to be licensed in multiple states, much like nurses can.  (This issue is all the more important now that counselors are increasingly shifting to telehealth due to social distancing, as counselors have to be licensed both by the sate that they practice in AND in the state the client is physically located in unless the state the client is in permits otherwise.)  This bill enables counselors who have been licensed in other states "in good standing" for at least 3 of the past 5 years to become licensed in Florida provided that they have passed an appropriate examination and are not currently under investigation.  The bill also requires new licensees to have a CACREP-accredited degree starting 7/1/25 (while grandfathering in all those who are already licensed), and includes some verbiage that stresses that LMHCs have training in diagnosing and treating mental disorders.  Read FMHCA's press release on this historic victory by clicking here.

    Federal Legislation

    • The CARES Act, also known as the COVID-19 Stimulus Package, has been passed.  Several provisions affect mental heath care.  Click here to read AMHCA's analysis for details.
    • Joel Miller, the CEO of AMHCA, provided an update on federal and state legislative issues on 4/13/20.  Click here to read it.

Suncoast Mental Health Counselors Association is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization.
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Suncoast Mental Health Counselors Association
P.O. Box 110002 
Bradenton, FL 34211

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