The LPC Michigan Miracle of 2019

How MMHCA made it happen!

By James Blundo, MA, LPC, MMHCA Executive Director

 

Michigan has a new law that protects and strengthens our LPC license.

House Bill 4325 passed both the Michigan House and Senate by 100% of the legislators and was signed into law by the Governor on October 29th as Public Act 96 of 2019.

When we found out that the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) decided to alter our Scope of Practice without the approval of the Board of Counseling, by moving diagnosis, testing and other measures into an educational category, we acted to quickly to mobilize the 10,000 LLPC/LPC’s into action to block the administrative changes that would have likely gone into effect in November of this year and restricted the ability to practice.

Last year we had already moved to introduce a bill to codify diagnosis, and other elements within the Scope of Practice into law. It passed in the Legislature but was blocked on the last day of the 2018 “Lame Duck Session”.

This year we were able to get the bill reintroduced thanks to our very effective Lobbyist firm. MMHCA met with LARA, the Michigan Psychological Association (MPA), and other professional groups who strongly objected to this legislation. The strongest opposition came from MPA with the biggest issue centering around our ability to diagnose.

Then we realized that if LARA was able to make the rule changes before the bill was passed, our profession would be grossly restricted. 

The Chronology of our Actions

  • March 2019 the House Bill 4325 was introduced by Representative Aaron Miller. Opposition came from The Michigan Psychological Association (MPA) and LARA regarding the LPCs Scope of Practice.
  • In June of 2019 LARA met with the Board of Counseling (BOC). After this meeting MMHCA was informed that LARA planned to make administrative rule changes to our scope of practice. They put this in writing.
  • During our negotiations with LARA they said they intended to make their administrative changes take effect and not wait for HB 4325 to pass.
  • In July of 2019 we organized LPS to oppose LARAs proposed changes.
  • In August of 2019 our Public Policy committee met with LARA and MPA to try to negotiate the Scope of Work language. These negotiations lasted until the passage of HB 4325 in the Michigan House of Representatives.
  • LARA scheduled a one-time hearing for comments about their proposed changes. In response we organized a social media response.
  • In September of 2019 MMHCA ramped up our social media presence further creating a grass roots effort that set records in Michigan legislation.
  • We were very effective with the use of social media.
  • We created a petition to support our cause using change.org. 54,000 individuals signed the petition within a month.
  • We created an independent Facebook site over and above our MMHCA site, with the new site developing into 7,000 members. Our social media committee provided accurate information and were diligent in refuting any misinformation.
  • On October 4, 2019 we requested that all counselors attend the LARA public hearing to provide testimony refuting the changes that LARA proposed. 2,000 LPCs came to personally testify. The testimonies lasted from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Another 7,000 LPCs sent their testimony via email. This was the largest response ever experienced by LARA in their history.
  • We organized a campaign to move our bill through the legislature before LAR A’s November deadline. House and Senate members were encouraged by LPCs to vote in favor of HB 4325. This campaign was powerful, quick and impactful.
  • We helped to script what LPCs should say. Legislators were inundated with voicemail and email messages. Some legislators commented that they had received 1,700 emails.
  • Our lobbyist was able to arrange hearings in the Health Policy Committee of the House of Representatives. This resulted in a unanimous vote of approval.
  • The MPA worked very hard to block us, delay us, object to our testimony despite the outpouring of support from LPCs.
  • Our case was based on facts. The opposition was not. But rather based on unsubstantiated opinions and misinformation.

The Chronology of Success

House Health Policy Committee            September 19, 2019  Unanimous vote in favor

House Ways and Means Committee     October 08, 2019  Unanimous vote in favor

Full House                                                  October 08, 2019  Unanimous vote in favor

Senate Health Policy Committee           October 16, 2019  Unanimous vote in favor

Full Senate                                                 October 17, 2019  Unanimous vote in favor

 

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed our bill into law on October 29, 2019.

The grass roots effort set a Legislative record!

The law is now Public Act 96 of 2019

Accomplishments

 

MMHCA has worked tirelessly on your behalf to protect and advance the counseling profession in Michigan!

Thanks to the hard work of MMHCA Board Members over the years we have shaped a very positive and strong relationship with government, mental health agencies, corporations, medical communities and nonoprofits.in Michigan

We are very proud of our profession and where it is going in the future. We have been instrumental in creating a living wage and creating exceptional options in the mental health and business arenas. We continue to build visibility while we ask your support on our journey.

MMHCA was at the forefront of developing and passing the LLPC/LPC legislation in 1988, helped create the Scope of Practice. We later gained reimbursement from insurance companies, defended our ability to diagnose before the Michigan Attorney General. We monitor the Board of Counseling and State Legislation impacting counselors. We retain a paid Lansing Lobbyist on a yearly basis to help facilitate this complicated bureaucracy, and navigate government decisions as they pertain to mental health counselors.

We are a 501c6 nonprofit Association representing Mental Health Counselor’s and Allied Health Professionals. MMHCA is a chapter of the American Mental Health Counselors Association. It is the only Association actively representing mental health counselors in Michigan.

MMHCA has existed for over 35 years accomplishing a great deal. The LLPC/LPC professionals would not have thrived without our vigilance and interventions. We are persistent and willing to do the hard work. We celebrate what we’ve accomplished, but raise the bar a little higher each time.

“Work hard in silence, let success be your noise” – Frank Ocean

MMHCA:

  • Led the effort to pass the LLPC/LPC Law.
  • Helped develop the Scope of Practice for our profession.
  • Negotiated reimbursement from insurance providers, and most recently, Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan.
  • Monitors the Board of Counseling and legislation which impacts counselors.
  • Holds meetings with MDHHS, LARA, Community Mental Health, Corporations, Nonprofit Associations, and other stake holders to educate them on the issues of concern and to strengthen our status as core service providers.
  • Retains a highly regarded Lansing based Lobbying Firm.
  • Provides top-notch training workshops. DSM 5, ICD 10, Billing and Coding, Private Practice Development, Ethics and the Law, Trauma Recovery, etc.
  • Held over 40 Human Trafficking Workshops.
  • Present workshops in conjunction with Graduate Student Associations.
  • Holds monthly Networking Breakfast Meetings featuring BCBSM Consultants, our Lobbyist, and updates on issues of concern to counselors.
  • Works actively with AMHCA to Include LPC’s as core providers under Medicare.
  • Formed a 501c3 (Michigan Mental Health Providers Association), to allow donations and to form affiliations with all mental health providers.

For more information: jamesblundo@att.net

Jim Blundo, MMHCA Executive Director

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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