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 firstname.lastname@example.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
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 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.