Legislative Update - 1/19/2019
Our Bills have assigned docket numbers! The time is now to call your representatives and encourage them to co-sponsor our bills! Rep. Josh Cutler has done tremendous work to make the legislative issues of MaMHCA happen as our lead sponsor, and we need all of you, our MaMHCA community, to make phone calls, send emails, and tell others to do the same so that our bills have as many co-sponsors as possible! Legislators can still sign on to support our bills after the co-sponsor deadline of 5pm 2/1/19, but it assures their support and better political momentum if they are listed as a co-sponsor of the bills.
Here are the assigned docket numbers for our bills:
HD552 - An Act Expanding Access and Safety of Mental Health Services
This bill is our Section 12 'Parity Bill'
HD1065 - An Act Establishing a Board of Registration of Licensed Mental Health Counselors
This bill is proposing to increase the efficiency of the Licensing Board by separating mental health counselors (who by far make up the majority of applicants) from the other professions the board of Allied Mental Health currently reviews
This bill also creates an 'entry level' or 1st tier license (LSMHC) for individual who are being Supervised (the S) and working toward the Independent LMHC license
HD160 & 161 - An Act Relative to Establishing a Behavioral Health Workforce Development Trust Fund
This is the bill that uses existing funds from the Workforce Development Trust Fund, and allows the Behavioral Health field (all professions and licenses in behavioral health) access to these funds in order to pay for supervision needs that currently are an unfunded mandate
Fact Sheets and more specific information about these bills are posted on the Public Policy homepage here. Don't hesitate to download these, send them to colleagues, networking contacts, or any other folks who you think are interested in these important issues facing mental health care, and specifically Mental Health Counselors in Massachusetts!
Legislative Update - January 2019
As we prepare for another New Year, we also prepare for another legislative session. Here at MaMHCA, we are getting ready to launch another campaign for a whole host of important bills to take LMHCs, the community and those we serve to the next level. We are eager to see that with the new change in legislative leadership throughout the Commonwealth how MaMHCA can play an important role in mental health advocacy.
Support for Supervision: MaMHCA plans on resubmitting our traditional bills with hopes of more progress as we move through this new session. Bills of note would be the continued desire to establish the Behavioral Health Workforce Development Trust Fundand to then fund that fund. We have always presented this as two separate bills and will continue to do that. These bills would create a mechanism to help provide supplemental financial support, through grants, to support agencies with supervision costs to assist with the unfunded supervision mandates that have hurt agenciesand as a result aspiringLMHCs and MA families in the past. We have always, historically, had great support on this and we aim to work with other, like-minded advocacy groups to get this fund established.
Section 12 - Where are we? We plan on reintroducing our Section 12 Privileges ‘parity bill’. This would include LMHCs among the list of those professions able to add Section 12 to their tool box to keep ourselves and clients safe. This has historically had wonderful support through the large number of co-sponsors we’ve had In the past and the open support of other advocacy groups including MPA, NASW-MA and the Police Chief’s Association. The difference between this year’s filing and previous years is that we are removing the Section 35 privilege from the language. We’re doing this in an effort to streamline the advocacy that we’re doing and focus our energy on the safety component that a vast majority of our members have voiced concern over. During our lobbying efforts we have also heard from Beacon Hill that section 35 is something that is very difficult to get traction on due to various concerns expressed by legislators. However, we feel that we continue to have a strong case for Section 12 parity and will be focusing on that in particular. Please be on the look-out for and respond to our legislative alerts in 2019. We will need your help to make this happen!
New License Board & New License Level Proposed:Lastly, we are filing legislation to separate LMHCs from the Board of Allied Mental Health and Human Services Professions and create the “Licensed Mental Health Counseling Board.” This Board would consist of 5 LMHCs who would take on the role of the established Allied Board. MaMHCA finds this necessary given the rise in LMHC applications over the past 10 years and the need to have focused, professional specific board members overseeing the various responsibilities our LMHC board would have to undertake. In addition to this new board, we are proposing an entry level license, the Licensed Supervised Mental Health Counselor (LSMHC) would, as the name implies, would be those professionals working towards their LMHC. We hope that this would enhance the career identify of those working towards LMHC status and would also open those with an LSMHC opportunities that other licensed professionals have, especially student loan reimbursement programs. Further, the creation of the LSMHC, will offer clinics and agencies more opportunities for clarity in their billing and open up more entry-level positions to LSMHCs.
Needless to say, we have a lot of work over the next two years and we’re excited to have our members as partners. We need your voice, your time and your dedication to make these ambitions a reality. So please call us at 508-698-0010 (x 203) to find out how you can be involved with lobbying, making phone calls and being a community voice for change, and you can be part of our terrific team. You can also contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org As always, thank you for your support!
Joseph Weeks, LMHC
Director of Public Policy and Legislation