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.
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.
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