Suncoast Mental Health Counselors Association

May 2020 Legislative Update

  • Wednesday, May 13, 2020 12:49 AM
    Message # 8965171
    AARON NORTON (Administrator)

    State Legislation

    • FMHCA provided a COVID-19 update webinar for counselors and counseling students with the Executive Director and a Board member of the 491 Board present to answer questions.  The training included updates on laws, emergency rules, and emergency orders related to COVID-19 as well as office precautions and tips for working with clients during a pandemic.  Watch the free video recording by clicking here.
    • FMHCA's letter to the Office of the Attorney General requesting that enforcement of F.S. 491.005(1)(c),491.005(3)(c), and 491.004(4)(c), statutes that require registered interns working in private practice to have a licensed mental health professional on the premises while conducting clinical services, be temporarily suspended during the pandemic resulted in the OAG recommending that FMHCA converse with the Surgeon General and/or state legislators.  This letter was written so that registered interns could safely engage in social distancing and quarantine while still not unethically abandoning their clients.  Yesterday, at the recommendation of FMHCA's Government Relations Committee, the FMHCA Board of Directors voted to write a letter to Governor DeSantis requesting an executive order as our next strategy.  Click here to read that letter.  
    • We are waiting for Governor DeSantis to either sign SB 230/HB 713, the bill providing licensure portability in Florida.  If the governor doesn't sign it 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

    •  AMHCA released a call to action for counselors to contact their representatives to support adding a provision to the upcoming COVID-19 stimulus package that allows licensed counselors to bill Medicare.   Similarly, ACA released a call to action asking counselors to contact the House Ways and Means Committee to support HR 945, the Mental Health Access Improvement Act, which would achieve the same outcome.
    Last modified: Wednesday, May 13, 2020 8:59 AM | AARON NORTON (Administrator)
  • Thursday, May 14, 2020 6:07 AM
    Reply # 8967973 on 8965171
    KEN DONALDSON LMHC CAP (Administrator)

    Thanks Aaron. Your commitment is astonishing!!

  • Thursday, May 14, 2020 9:49 AM
    Reply # 8968587 on 8965171

    Aaron, can't thank you enough for all the latest updates and all of the resources you provide! Not speaking on behalf of SMHCA but as a solo practitioner, I so appreciate all the information you share! Janice

  • Thursday, May 14, 2020 1:42 PM
    Reply # 8969121 on 8965171
    JAY SCHRADER (Administrator)

    Sent my email notices to Scott, Christ and Rubio and already got responses beyond the "thanks for contacting us".

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Suncoast Mental Health Counselors Association
P.O. Box 110002 
Bradenton, FL 34211

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