Suncoast Mental Health Counselors Association

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  • Thursday, September 10, 2020 9:42 AM | Delia Janice LaTorre (Administrator)

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    House Committee Passes Mental Health Counselor Medicare Legislation

    September 9, 2020

    Today, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved HR 945 in an historic vote supporting Medicare coverage for the counseling profession. While this legislation has passed both the House and Senate twice over the years, never before has the bill been voted on as a standalone measure rather than part of a broader package.

    AMHCA Legislative Affairs consultant, David Bergman, posted an advocacy update in the AMHCA community today

    Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr’s (D-NJ) opening remarks described HR 945 as “bipartisan legislation that would improve access to mental health providers in the Medicare program by covering mental health counselor and marriage and family therapist services.”

    The sponsors of HR 945, Congressmen Mike Thompson (D-CA) and John Katko (R-NY), fought hard for inclusion of the legislation in the markup. They worked closely with committee staff and Members to build support for passage. Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) also pushed for the bill, speaking on its behalf at the markup calling it a “blessing” and stating that “passage is a priority to me.” The Committee reported the bill to the full House by voice vote.

    The future of HR 945 in this Congress is difficult to forecast. There are limited legislative workdays before Members leave for campaigning in October, although there is expected to be a post-election lame duck session that may provide additional opportunity. Further, a Senate calendar packed with COVID relief legislation and annual appropriations is offering little room for movement of our Senate companion bill, S. 286.

    While the President’s signature cannot be guaranteed in the 116th Congress, this historic vote shouldn’t be underestimated. There remain paths for passage this year, and even if success is elusive, the Committee approval strengthens the chance for approval in the next Congress when mental health legislation is anticipated.

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    AMHCA thanks all members and leaders who contacted your Representatives in support of HR 945. We wouldn’t have been successful without your efforts and urge you to keep up the good work when we make our next push. We also encourage you to contact your Representatives, particularly our champions, to thank them for their support.

    You can use the following link to find your Representative with email and phone numbers:

    Find my Representative


  • Friday, September 04, 2020 11:37 AM | Delia Janice LaTorre (Administrator)
    Florida Department of Health - www.floridahealth.gov
    Florida Department of Health

    Important Updates for Health Care Provider Telephone Conference Call for COVID-19
    September 2, 2020

    Updated Health Care Provider Telephone Conference Call Information

    Beginning Tuesday, September 15, 2020, the health care provider telephone conference will be held bi-weekly, every other Tuesday at 5:30 pm. Participants are asked to email questions in advance to Provider.COVID19@flhealth.gov no later than close of business on the Monday preceding the call. All participants will be muted during these calls to help streamline information delivery. The State Surgeon General, Dr. Scott A. Rivkees, in collaboration with Secretary Mary Mayhew from the Agency for Health Care Administration, will provide updates from the Department of Health on the COVID-19 response efforts, provide a briefing from the Agency for Health Care Administration, offer updates from other state agencies and address questions submitted from our health care providers. This call is not transcribed or recorded. If you are interested in joining this weekly telephone conference call, please see the updated call-in information below:

    Date: Every Other Tuesday
    Time: 5:30 pm, ET
    Call-In Number: 888-585-9008
    Conference Room ID: 208-305-233
    Submit Questions in Advance: Provider.COVID19@flhealth.gov



  • Thursday, July 16, 2020 5:47 PM | Delia Janice LaTorre (Administrator)


    Florida Department of Health

    Important Updates for Health Care Provider Telephone Conference Call for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
    July 16, 2020

    Updated Weekly Health Care Provider Telephone Conference Call Information

    Beginning Tuesday, July 21, 2020, the weekly health care provider telephone conference call will resume with a new start time: 5:30 pm. Participants are asked to email questions in advance to Provider.COVID19@flhealth.gov no later than close of business on the Monday preceding the call. All participants will be muted during these calls to help streamline information delivery. The State Surgeon General, Dr. Scott A. Rivkees, in collaboration with Secretary Mary Mayhew from the Agency for Health Care Administration, will provide updates from the Department of Health on the COVID-19 response efforts, provide a briefing from the Agency for Health Care Administration, offer updates from other state agencies and address questions submitted from our health care providers. If you are interested in joining this weekly telephone conference call, please see the updated call-in information below:

    Date: Every Tuesday
    Time: 5:30 pm
    Call-In Number: 888-585-9008
    Conference Room ID: 208-305-233
    Submit Questions in Advance: Provider.COVID19@flhealth.gov



  • Thursday, June 25, 2020 4:22 PM | Delia Janice LaTorre (Administrator)

    Please highlight and right click on the link below: 

    https://www.amhca.org/blogs/joel-miller/2020/06/03/a-statement-of-the-american-mental-health-counselo

  • Tuesday, May 26, 2020 12:48 PM | KEN DONALDSON LMHC CAP (Administrator)

     

    Join us online this summer for AMHCA's 2020 Annual Conference, June 24 - 26

    We are still be energized, empowered and unified and ready to shape the future of the mental health profession.

    Click here to registerhttps://www.amhca.org/conference/registration

    There is no stopping us!

    We hope you will join us in putting on a great virtual conference that can energize, empower, and unify our profession.

  • Saturday, May 23, 2020 4:25 PM | KEN DONALDSON LMHC CAP (Administrator)

    The House released its fifth COVID-19 relief package on Tuesday and counselor Medicare language was not included.  While this is a setback, we still have the opportunity to pass of our legislation. At the direction of our congressional champions, AMHCA is now shifting our grassroots advocacy to the Senate. We are urging counselors to take up the charge and contact your Senator to add S. 286 into its COVID-19 package. The Senate timeline is unclear, but they appear on a slower track than the House so there remains time to influence the process.

    As previously reported, AMHCA is working closely with our allied organizations from counseling, MFT, and behavioral health clinics to add our language to this upcoming COVID bill. 

    We will not be included in the Senate COVID legislation if U.S. Senators don’t hear from you about the importance of S. 286. We urge you to contact your two Senators and ask them to include our Medicare bill in their stimulus package. 

    Contact your Senators today!  Use the link below to find your Senator with email and phone numbers: 

    https://www.senate.gov/senators/index.htm (top left corner)

    Sample message for call or email [please fill in bracketed sections]:

    I am a mental health counselor from [city/state]. I urge Senator [___] to include S. 286 in the COVID-19 relief bill currently under development.  This legislation authorizes licensed mental health counselors to provide mental health and addiction services to Medicare beneficiaries. Research shows the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to create a behavioral health crisis and there are not enough mental health professionals to meet the needs of the Medicare population.  I urge Senator [____] to increase the availability of behavioral health services by including S. 286 in the COVID-19 relief bill.  Thank you for your consideration.

    Thank you for taking action!

    SMHCA Legislative Chair


  • Sunday, May 17, 2020 7:19 AM | KEN DONALDSON LMHC CAP (Administrator)


    Call to Action: Save this date and please post a pic, story, poem, song, scripture or whatever God puts on your heart in remembrance of a veteran and/or family who lost a veteran to suicide on this page. We will read them off at our Special Memorial event. #VCVSpecialmemorial

    On may 25th at 630 p.m., on Zoom and FB Live, Veterans Counseling Veterans is hosting a Virtual Special Memorial service in honor of our Military and Veterans who died by suicide.

    Please click the link below to join the webinar:https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87153234101?pwd=V0FPbHcrMGo3eWVoM3BqUVFlNG1OQT09

    Password: 959868

    Guests will include:

    Chaplain Linda Pugsley

    Pastor DJ Springman

    Carol Rasor (lost Marine son Joe to suicide)


  • Thursday, May 14, 2020 7:20 PM | KEN DONALDSON LMHC CAP (Administrator)

    To address questions from health care providers around the state, participants are asked to email questions in advance to Provider.COVID19@flhealth.gov no later than close of business on the Monday preceding the call. All participants will be muted during these calls to help streamline information delivery. State Surgeon General, Dr. Scott Rivkees, in collaboration with Secretary Mary Mayhew from AHCA, will provide updates from DOH on the COVID-19 pandemic response efforts, provide a briefing from AHCA, offer updates from other state agencies and address questions submitted from health care providers. If you are interested in joining this weekly telephone conference call, please see the call-in information below:

    Date: Every Tuesday
    Time: 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm
    Call-In Number: 888-585-9008
    Conference Room ID: 208-305-233
    Submit Questions in Advance: Provider.COVID19@flhealth.gov


  • Monday, May 04, 2020 8:21 PM | Delia Janice LaTorre (Administrator)
    Florida Department of Health

    Important Health Care Provider Updates for Coronavirus Disease 2019(COVID-19)

    May 4, 2020

    Governor DeSantis Issues Executive Order Number 20-112

    On Wednesday, April 29, 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-112 to outline Phase One: Plan for Florida’s Recovery. As you review the entire Executive Order, please note that Section 5 relates to health care practitioners. The Executive Order was effective at 12:01 a.m. on May 4, 2020.

    Final Report of the Re-Open Florida Task Force

    The Re-Open Florida Task Force Executive Committee Report was submitted to Governor DeSantis. Click here to view the Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida’s Recovery Report.

    Renewal of Declaration of Public Health Emergency

    On April 30, 2020, State Surgeon General, Dr. Scott A. Rivkees renewed the Declaration of Public Health Emergency originally issued on March 1, 2020. Click here to view the Renewal of Declaration of Public Health Emergency related to COVID-19.

    Diagnostic Testing

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated their clinical and diagnostic testing criteria for COVID-19. Patients with cough or shortness of breath or with two of the following symptoms: fever, chills, headache, sore throat, myalgia, and sudden loss of taste or smell should be considered for testing. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/hcp/clinical-criteria.html

    Antibody Testing

    The Food and Drug Administration has provided guidance on antibody testing to health care providers. These tests are still being validated and should not be used as the sole basis to diagnose COVID-19 infections. It is also not yet clear to what extent antibodies to COVID-19 protect against reinfection. https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/letters-health-care-providers/important-information-use-serological-antibody-tests-covid-19-letter-health-care-providers

    Talkspace

    Talkspace is providing free therapy for medical and health care workers, first responders, and state employees on a first-come, first-serve basis. The company connects individual users with a network through an easy-to-use and HIPAA-compliant web and mobile platform. In addition to therapy, Talkspace launched a series of free, therapist-led Facebook support groups to address anxiety relating to COVID-19, and a COVID-19 channel on Instagram (IG). These platforms include therapists, weekly therapist IG LIVES, mental health check-ins, and content sharing.

    Updated Format for the Weekly Health Care Provider Telephone Conference Call

    To address all the questions from health care providers around the state, the Department of Health has instituted a new format for the weekly health care provider telephone conference call. Participants are asked to email questions in advance to Provider.COVID19@flhealth.gov no later than close of business on the Monday preceding the call. All participants will be muted during these calls to help streamline information delivery. The State Surgeon General, Dr. Scott Rivkees, in collaboration with Secretary Mary Mayhew from the Agency for Health Care Administration, will provide updates from the Department of Health on the COVID-19 pandemic response efforts, provide a briefing from the Agency for Health Care Administration, offer updates from other state agencies and address questions submitted from our health care providers. If you are interested in joining this weekly telephone conference call, please see the call-in information below:

    Date: Every Tuesday
    Time: 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm
    Call-In Number: 888-585-9008
    Conference Room ID: 208-305-233
    Submit Questions in Advance: Provider.COVID19@flhealth.gov



  • Thursday, April 30, 2020 9:59 AM | Delia Janice LaTorre (Administrator)
    • Mental Health Resources: Natural disasters – including such pandemics as the coronavirus outbreak – can be overwhelming and also can seriously affect emotional health. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s (SAMHSA) Disaster Distress Helpline – 1-800-985-5990 (or text TalkWithUs to 66746) – provides 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling and support to anyone who is seeking help in coping with the mental or emotional effects caused by developments related to the coronavirus pandemic. Learn more about the Disaster Distress Helpline here.
    • Addiction & Substance Abuse Resources: The COVID-19 pandemic has created countless challenges for those delivering care to our most vulnerable populations. People with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) are especially at high risk suffering complications from COVID-19. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), which leads and coordinates the development, implementation, and assessment of U.S. drug policy, released a fact sheet that contains information on Federal actions to expand telemedicine and e-prescribing, to increase flexibility for treatment with methadone and buprenorphine, to improve access to prescribed controlled substances, and to expand assistance to rural areas.


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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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