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MaMHCA: Massachusetts Mental Health Counselors Association


Public Policy & Legislation

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Current Massachusetts Bills

 

June 2017

Read Midge Williams, LMHC, Executive Director's Testimony in support of MaMHCA's Behavioral Health Workforce Development Bill.

 


March 2017

CALL TO ACTION!!!

MaMHCA Legislation:

  HB 1061 & SB 1108 - "An Act Relative to Expanding Access and Safety of Mental Health Services"

HB 1062 – "An Act Relative to Establishing a Workforce Development Trust Fund"

 HB 601 - "An Act Funding the Behavioral Workforce Development Trust Fund"  

As you may already know, MaMHCA has filed 3 bills HD 57 "An Act Relative to Expanding Access and Safety of Mental Health Services", which now has a bill number HB 1061, on the House side and SB 1108 on the Senate side, "An Act Relative to Establishing a Workforce Development Trust Fund" HD220, now HB 1062, and lastly, "An Act Funding the Behavioral Workforce Development Trust Fund" HB 601, formerly HD222.  Both Bills are sponsored by Rep. Josh Cutler and Senator Joan Lovely.    

All of our bills have been assigned to the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery, Chaired by Senator Jennifer Flanagan and Representative Denise Garlick. A link to the Committee page is found here

As of today, there are no hearings scheduled for any of our bills, but as hearing dates get scheduled, we will send out notices via our MaMHCA Media/Constant Contact system. Please check your emails for our regular updates regarding our legislative activities. We need constituents like you to reach out to your Senators and Representatives to get their attention.  We must be the squeaky wheel if we want change to come to this state.

We want to thank all our members who helped with our efforts to secure co-sponsors for our bills.  While the House date for obtaining co-sponsors is past, the Senate will still accept co-sponsors signing on to bills until hearing dates are set.   

Actions Needed NOW:

Getting cosponsors is an incredibly important piece of the advocacy for this bill to pass. The more legislators we can get to sign onto this bill, and put their name to it, the more public support we will have. 

I do not have to emphasize how important this bill is to our profession to ensure we can take the highest quality care of our clients.

►Please Contact your State Senator

Emphasize that this is a bill that will keep clients, professionals and the public safe.

·       Emphasize that this is a bill to provide equality and parity among provider professionals with similar licenses.

·       Let your legislators know of your profession. What you do, what clientele you see and how this bill can positively affect your workplace and your community.

·       Emphasize that this bill is a NEED and not a WANT - It is necessary for us to have this ability in order to keep those we are charged with caring for safe.

►Please download and fill out this letter to Representative Sanchez, House Chair of this Committee, fill it out, and return to MaMHCA via e-mail to Joeor fax at 508-698-1711   to continue to advocate once we have a hearing date with his Committee. Those forms with the information you provide, are incredibly important to this process, so please download and fill them out and email them to Joe Weeks.

This document will become an important piece of our advocacy.  It will put a name and description to the hard work you do and validate why we need this important ability.

Keep an eye out for additional newsletters as we progress through this process. Once again, thank you so much for your support!

Supporting Documents:

Call to Action Letter Section 12  and Section 12 Fact Sheet

Call To Action Letter Workforce Development & Supervision and Fact Sheet

 

Fall 2016

Legislative Updates!    June 2016

The Joint Committee on Health Care Finance, which is charged with identifying bills in their committee and determining the cost associated with the Commonwealth, has placed our Section 12 and 35 bill, (H1787)and our Supervision bill (H1788) under study. This means that the committee would like to further consider the bills and asked for more information to make a more informed decision on our behalf. I had the pleasure of meeting with the Chair of the Committee, Representative Sanchez. After meeting with Rep. Sanchez, it was articulated by himself and his staff that the committee needs to know more about the LMHC license.

As discussed in the President's Message, we will be working on a new campaign to assist in educating not only the Joint Committee on Health Care Finance, but all legislators throughout the Commonwealth. We are doing this to assist those who may have some to little understanding of the importance of LMHCs and our connectedness to mental health. It is important for us to advocate for ourselves by showing those on Beacon Hill that we are one of the most important and critical components to the assessment and safety of all of those involved in any way in mental health services.  This new campaign is designed to prove just that. We need your help in this.

Action Steps Needed:

As a result, I would ask that MaMHCA members to help us witha major effort to assist the Joint Committee in understanding how involved in mental health LMHCs actually are.

If you could, would you please send a brief description of who you are and what you do with your LMHC licensure?

·       What is your job title,

·       Where do you work?

·       Are you in private practice?

·       How many clients do you see?

Email the description to us or send via post to our office in Foxboro: 17 Cocasset Street, Foxboro, MA 02035

As also discussed in the President's Message, I have been elected as the President-Elect of our parent organization AMHCA. With this new position, I hope to have some influence on more of the national policies and methods to gaining traction towards some of our more pressing national issues. I will be working in a more direct role to assist in trying to get LMHCs placed in Medicare regulations. I will be working to get LMHCs recognized as Substance Abuse Professionals. I will also be working to ensure parity of the profession from state to state. This is possible and it will be a busy 3 years as the office takes shape. However, understanding that we have the support of the many MaMHCA members behind me, I'm sure we can get this done.

The new legislative cycle is coming up in January and we will be looking to hear from those who may want us to advocate for other issues that we may not be aware of. If there is something that you would like me to take a look at that we can begin discussing in the new legislative cycle let me know. You can contact me at jweeks@mamhca.org.

Lastly, I am looking to add more individuals to a newly established Legislative Committee. We will be working hard to advance the Section 12, 35 and Supervision bills moving forward, in a much more comprehensive way. If you are interested, please let me know.

I would also like to thank Representative Josh Cutler for his advocacy efforts on behalf of LMHCs in MA. He has been working tirelessly by our sides and has been a wonderful advocate for all of us.

 

Task Force on Behavioral Health Records and Electronic Health Record Integration – Updates

June 2016

This task force* was convened at the request of Secretary Sudders, Executive Office of Health and Human Services, to provide suggested guidelines for regulations governing the behavioral health component of the integrated, electronic health record, mandated under Chapter 224. Midge Williams, LMHC, Executive Director, Massachusetts Mental Health Counselors Association, has been the Task Force Chair.

The Task Force developed 10 recommendations on themanagement of content, and related issues, for the behavioral health portion of the integrated electronic health record.  The primary recommendation concerned itemizing and delimiting the data points to be shared in an integrated electronic health record (EHR). The definition of the required data points for behavioral health information to be shared (listed below) are consistent with the “minimum necessary” rule (HIPAA) and clarify that no more than these points shall be electronically shared/integrated in to the EHR; 

  • Diagnosis – in accord with current, standardized diagnostic and assessment measures
  • Treatment goals
  • Treatment Plan – especially to include frequency and mode of treatment
  • Name of behavioral health provider and license type, and professional contact information
  • Dates of service coming up, with procedure code for each;
  • Immediate next appointment
  • Psychiatric medications, if prescribed
  • Behavioral health assessment measures and results, if used
  • Notice of treatment completion/termination, and/or transfer

Other recommendations addressed storage of EHR, Attestation of Informed Consent, Oversight, Regulation Review, and Complaints.

The 10 recommendations were sent to Secretary Sudders in early June.

The 1/1/17 Mandate: A second working group has been convened at MassHealth and is addressing Connection to the eHighway, Opt-in and Opt-out mechanisms, and defining ‘health care providers’.

The most important aspects for LMHCs to know now, is that the state understands that this is a complex process and will take time, and the mandate will be implemented over time depending on the size and type of providers.

This means only large organizations (hospitals) will have to comply by January 1, 2017.

Smaller provider groups, and individual practitioners will have 1-2-3 more years to comply, and connecting will first mean using the Direct Messaging Services (basically super-secure e-mail) of the state’s eHigway.

A draft form of these regulations, with provider types organized by size, and their timelines, will be issued this summer for public review and comment period.

MaMHCA will let members know when this is available.

*Members of the task force included representatives from the behavioral health provider professional associations that participate in the MA Mental Health Coalition: Midge Williams, LMHC, Executive Director, Massachusetts Mental Health Counselors Association, Task Force Chair,  Dr. Michael Goldberg, Director of Professional Affairs,  Mass Psychological Association, Gregory Ludlow, Ed.D., Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and representative of MABHS, Jonas Goldenberg, LICSW, Director of Clinical Issues, National Association of Social Workers-Massachusetts Chapter,  Mary Harris, Director of Medical Records,  Bournewood Hospital, Thomas Hickey, Thomas Hickey, Psy.D., CEO Pembroke Hospital and representative of MABHS.

Additionally, Michael Chin, MD, Senior Policy Analyst, MassHealth and Assistant Professor, University of Massachusetts Medical School, served as a consultant from a related MassHealth work group. 

 

Winter-Spring 2016

Support Letter for 1787

 

Fall 2015

Testimony Delivered to Legislative Hearing on LMHC Section 12 Rights

On Thursday, September 17, 2015, Rep. Josh Cutler (D Duxbury Pembroke), MaMHCA members

John Ciervo, LMHC, Julie Howard, LMHC, Christine Cassidy, LMHC and Joseph Weeks, LMHC, MaMHCA President and Public Policy Director, provided testimony to the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse regarding the need for LMHCs to be able to use Section 12 provisions for the safety of clients who are in danger of immediate harm. This was the first hearing for HB 1787, “an act relative to expanding access and safety of mental health services.” A package of written testimony and letters of support from MaMHCA members was also delivered to the Committee.

 

The testimony was well received and no opposition was voiced at the time.  We expect to hear within the month of the Committee’s Report.

 

Winter 2015

MaMHCA Files Bills to Support LMHC Practice and Increase Client Safety

As 2015 rolls in, so does another legislative season. MaMHCA is happy to announce that we have submitted a number of bills that we will be working hard to get passed to continue to improve and expand the Licensed Mental Health Counseling profession and to continue to give our clientele the best services possible.

Hospital Privileges:
We have heard a number of our members express that they would like us to pursue “Sectioning Privileges.” For those that are unaware, “Sectioning” refers to MGL Chapter 123, Section 12, 22, and 35. MaMHCA has submitted legislation that would include LMHCs amongst the listed providers that would have the ability to hospitalize when needed, individuals with whom we have established a therapeutic relationship. 

If the legislation passes, LMHCs will be able to section 12, or assess and hospitalize individuals who pose an immediate danger to themselves or others. Hospitalization will be allowed for up to 3 days in a psychiatric setting. Currently only Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Psychiatric Nurses, Social Workers and Police Officers can section 12 an individual. With the scope of practice LMHCs have, it is only appropriate that we are included on this list given that LMHCs work in the same settings with the same populations as the above listed professions. This addresses as well, the safety concerns that are present for our clients if we are not included.

Section 35 is similar to section 12, but pertains only to substance abuse issues. By obtaining section 35 privileges, it would grant LMHCs the ability to hospitalize for up to 3 days an individual who poses a threat to themselves or others while under the influence of a substance. MaMHCA is working with NASW-MA, who also does not have this privilege at this time. We are coordinating our efforts to ensure that both professions are included given the settings in which both Social Workers and LMHCs work. 

Section 22 refers to an immunity clause from law suits that may occur resulting from exercising section 12 and 35 privileges.

If you’d like to follow the updates on this bill “HD867 An Act Relative to expanding access and safety of mental health services,” please contact Joe.

Ensuring Appropriate Supervision:
In addition to this exciting legislation, MaMHCA is also pursuing the creation of a Behavioral Health Workforce Development Fund “HD1919 An Act Relative to establishing a behavioral health workforce development trust fund.” This legislation would create a trust fund and a task force that would be charged with identifying recipients of grant funding that would support agencies, hospitals and other behavioral health providers with funds for supervision. MaMHCA realizes that supervision is a costly, time consuming, but critical endeavor that is mandated for the proper training of future mental health professions. In recognizing this, MaMHCA has submitted legislation that would expand Chapter 224 of the Acts of 2012 to expand Workforce Transformation Funds to assist in grants specifically tailored to supervision needs throughout the Commonwealth.

The last piece of legislation that MaMHCA has submitted is “HD2803 An Act Relative to funding the Behavioral Health Workforce Development Trust Fund.” This bill would fund HD1919 by allocating 10% of funds generated from Chapter 224 to be specifically used for supervision grants.

Representative Josh Cutler (D-Duxbury) has sponsored these bills and we have a number of co-sponsors and supporters that we feel confident will assist our organization in getting these bills passed. However, we still need your help.

MaMHCA has drafted summary “Fact Sheets” and “Call to Action” requests that we will be asking our members to send to their legislators, at the appropriate time, so we can ensure that these bills move forward

Our Bills now have assigned numbers:

HB 1787 “An Act Relative to expanding access and safety of mental health services.”

Fact Sheet for HB 1787  

HB 1788: “An Act Relative to Establishing a Behavioral Health Workforce Development Trust Fund for LMHCs and other behavioral health providers.

Fact Sheet for HB 1788

Joe Weeks, LMHC, Public Policy Director
Posted March 2015