Suncoast Mental Health Counselors Association

Legislative Update December 2020

  • Sunday, December 13, 2020 10:45 PM
    Message # 9427388
    AARON NORTON (Administrator)

    December 2020 

    Legislative Update



    FEDERAL LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

    Medicare Parity

    • The American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA), our parent chapter on a national level, issued a call to action  to all members to contact their legislators in support of HR 945, which would give counselors and marriage and family therapists Medicare billing privileges.  This is first time in U.S. history that a standalone bill for Medicare parity has been voted on by a legislative committee (two, in fact)!  Its companion bill in the Senate, S.286, is currently on hold as the Senate does not wish to take action until the bill has passed in the House.  This makes contact with your congressional representatives vital!


    Federal Government Creates Government Occupational Code for Mental Health Counselors

    • President Trump signed S.785 into law, adding mental health counselors to the federal occupational code system.  Implications include increased career opportunities for mental health counselors working in the federal government and significantly improved inclusion of mental health counselors in federal government agency activities involving the mental health professions.  The bill could even make it easier for counselors to get Medicare parity and to be able to serve as service members in the military in the sense that the bill would make it easier for government agencies to hire counselors.  Click here to read more details from AMHCA.


    How the 2020 Election Might Impact Our Profession

    • I recently wrote an article for AMHCA’s The Advocate Magazine entitled, “Therapy After the Election: Helping Clients—and Ourselves—Deal with Unwanted Results.”  Click here to read it.
    • AMHCA recently held a leadership summit providing an update on how the 2020 election might impact our profession.  Click here to read the slides from Dave Bergman, President & CEO of Bergman Strategies, LLC, and click here to read the slides from Joel Miller, CEO and Executive Director of AMHCA.  Also, AMHCA, ACES, and NAADAC partnered on a Facebook Live Event entitled “2020 Election: Managing Valuers Conflicts Post-Election.”  Check out the video recording by clicking here.


    Conversion Therapy Bans in Florida Struck Down by Federal Court

    • Click here to read an article in the Tampa Bay Times about a 2-1 decision by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to strike down conversion therapy bans in Palm Beach County and the City of Boca Raton, FL. The reasoning in the majority opinion is that if local governments can restrict freedom of speech by prohibiting therapists from providing conversion or reparative therapy, then the inverse is true—local governments can prohibit therapists from validating same-sex attractions (i.e., such a case precedent could be used in harmful ways as well as helpful ways).  
    • The federal court decision addresses a specific legal question about reparative therapy bans, but it says nothing about what is ethical and unethical for counselors.  The American Mental Health Counselors Association opposes conversion therapy, FMHCA has reiterated this position, and last year FMHCA supported a bill that would prevent healthcare professionals from providing conversion therapy to minors.  


    NAADAC Asks Addictions Professionals to Voice Opposition to Marijuana Bill

    • NAADAC, the Association for Addictions Professionals, recently sent an action alert asking counselors to contact their legislators to voice opposition to HR 3884, which would fully legalize and commercialize marijuana.  While NAADAC support decriminalization, it “does not currently support the use of cannabis as medicine or for recreational purposes, and therefore opposes the bill as written.”  Read more here.  

    AMHCA Executive Director Releases Mental Health Policy Week in Review
    • Joel Miller, the E.D. of AMHCA, periodically releases mental health policy reviews updating counselors on important policy actions nationwide.  Click here to read his most recent update. 


    STATE LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

    • The legislature is not in session, and few bills have been filed for the upcoming legislative session, so there is limited news to report at this time.
    • FMHCA’s Government Relations Committee (GRC) is working with its lobbyist, Corinne Mixon of Rutledge & Ecenia, to draft a COVID-19 mental health bill that would: (1) remove the requirement that registered interns working in private practice settings have a licensed mental health professional on the premises when providing clinical services, and (2) clarify that LMHCs, LMFTs, and LCSWs can be appointed by courts to conduct evaluations for the courts.  A legislative sponsor has been identified, and additional details will be provided in the future. Click here for a more in-depth summary.  
    • Click here to read an update from Corinne Mixon, the lobbyist for FMHCA, on state election results that are pertinent to our field.  
    • Corinne also alerted us that on 12/11/20 Governor DeSantis directed more than $23 million in federal coronavirus relief funding toward Florida’s state mental health system after a grand jury called the system “woefully defunded.”  Click here to read the details. 
    Last modified: Sunday, December 13, 2020 10:56 PM | AARON NORTON (Administrator)
  • Monday, December 14, 2020 8:26 AM
    Reply # 9428307 on 9427388
    KEN DONALDSON LMHC CAP (Administrator)

    Thank you Aaron. You’re ability and commitment to stay connected to all these very important issues is beyond words. You da man!!

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Bradenton, FL 34211

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