MMHCA E-Newsletter Archives

Please use the links below to access our quarterly e-newsletters, the MMHCA LifeLines. MMHCA LifeLines keep members informed of our latest programs and activities.

Click here for Correction to Out of My Mind Article in April 2020 Newsletter

Click here for April 2020 MMHCA Newsletter

Click here for February Newsletter 2020

Click here for Supplement Newsletter 9 28 2019

Click here for September 2019 MMHCA Newsletter.

 

 

 

PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR NEWS AND IMPORTANT POSTS!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MMHCA Lobbyist, Acuitas 2020 First Quarter Report

MMHCA wants to let you know one way we are earning your support. We are constantly striving to position LLPC/LPCs as core providers in both the public and private sector. Our latest example is that the list of 500 Counselors who volunteered to do pro bono counseling through the COVID-19 Hotline have been added to several help lines, CMH, DHHS, private foundations, etc. This will help with new telehealth clients as well as pro bono counseling to those in need. A special thanks goes out to Andrea Cascarilla, our lobbyist, who positions us in the best venues to promote our profession. Please take a minute to  observe our activity from January through March of this year.

Reported by: Jim Blundo, MMHCA Executive Director

_______________________________________________________________________________

Lobbying, Legislator Communications and Strategy:

  • Acuitas participates in a monthly conference call with MMHCA.
  • Acuitas sends MMHCA a listing of all the House and Senate Committee hearings, agency meetings and legislator fundraisers scheduled each week.
  • Acuitas provides MMHCA with a weekly summary of key issues addressed, pending and expected in the legislature,
  • Acuitas also sends MMHCA hearing notes from a wide variety of committees that cover policy issues of direct and general interest.
  • January 3 – Tony sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the Acuitas notes from the January Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference.
  • January 6 – Andrea notified Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano that DHHS was hosting public forums for input on Michigan’s behavioral health system and inquired if MMHCA was interested in participating.
  • January 7 – Andrea worked with MMHCA on the proposed new counseling rules to align with the passage of HB 4325.
  • January 7 – Andrea confirmed with Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the date for the Governor’s State of the State address and inquired about any guest passes that would be needed.
  • January 8 – Andrea notified Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano about $17.5 million in grant funds to combat the opioid epidemic.
  • January 8 – Andrea flagged for Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano a new bill (SB 709) introduced by Sen. Lucido mandating that hospitals provide counseling information to assault victims.
  • January 14 – Andrea and Sarah joined Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano for a MMHCA 2020 strategic planning session.
  • January 14 – Tony sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the Acuitas notes from the House Judiciary Committee hearing.
  • January 14 – Andrea had an invitation created for the January 31 MMHCA regional meeting in Macomb County and had it delivered to Macomb County legislator offices.
  • January 14 – Andrea alerted Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano about new Criminal Justice Reform Task Force recommendations that included recommendations on diverting those with behavioral health needs away from the criminal justice system.
  • January 15 – Tony sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the Acuitas notes from the House Ways and Means Committee hearing.
  • January 15 – Andrea clarified for Jim Blundo details for the upcoming Board of Counseling meeting.
  • January 17 – Tony sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the Acuitas notes from the House Oversight Committee hearing.
  • January 17 – Andrea participated in the MMHCA board meeting and Facebook Live presentation.
  • January 17 – Andrea had follow-up RSVP calls made to Macomb legislators’ offices for the MMHCA regional meeting on January 31.
  • January 17 – Amanda sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the Acuitas Legislative Update.
  • January 22 – Tony sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the Acuitas notes from the Senate Insurance and Banking Committee hearing.
  • January 22 – Tony sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the Acuitas notes from the House Natural Resources Committee hearing.
  • January 24 — Amanda sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the Acuitas Legislative Update.
  • January 27 – Andrea notified Jim Blundo, Napoleon, Irene Ametrano and Sue Schaefer about the Governor’s signing of HB 4051 creating the Michigan CARES hotline for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis and HB 4156 allowing mental health professionals, other than a psychiatrist, to work in a state-run psychiatric hospital without forfeiting their retirement benefits.
  • January 28 – Andrea and Sarah joined Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano again for a continuation of the MMHCA 2020 strategic planning session.
  • January 28 – Andrea flagged for Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano a package of bills just introduced on telemedicine (HBs 5412-5416).
  • January 28 – Andrea forwarded to Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano a news story on MMHCA’s LPC licensure law taking effect.
  • January 28 – Andrea joined Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Irene Ametrano and Sue Schaeffer for a strategy meeting on MMHCA’s submission of formal comments on the future of integrated care in Michigan.
  • January 28 – Andrea met with Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) about human trafficking legislation he was working on and provided Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Irene Ametrano and Sue Schaeffer with an update.
  • January 29 – Andrea confirmed for Jim Blundo the legislative attendees for the January 31 MMHCA regional meeting in Macomb County.
  • January 30 – Andrea forwarded additional details to Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano regarding the Governor’s State of the State announced plans related to mental health.
  • January 31 – Andrea attended the MMHCA Macomb County regional meeting with Jim Blundo and Napoleon Harrington and provided a state and federal legislative update.
  • January 31 — Amanda sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the Acuitas Legislative Update.
  • February 2 – Andrea prepared draft MMHCA comments on the future of integrated care for MMHCA and shared them with Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano.
  • February 4 – Andrea shared with Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano information about legislation (SB 600) being considered that would drop high school health and gym requirements and the concerns being raised about impacts to students’ mental and physical health.
  • February 5 – Andrea informed Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano that Rep. Stone’s staff had reached out about draft legislation she was working on to mandate an ACES survey for incoming kindergarteners and requested MMHCA’s input on this proposal.
  • February 5 – Andrea notified Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano about the introduction of a bipartisan package of bills on human trafficking (SBs 772-776) and noted in particular SB 772, requiring the Human Trafficking Commission to develop minimum training standards.
  • February 5 – Tony sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the Acuitas notes from the House Families, Children, and Seniors Committee hearing.
  • February 5 – Tony sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the Acuitas notes from the House Judiciary Committee hearing.
  • February 6 – Andrea alerted Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano in advance about several health-related announcements that would be included in the Governor’s budget presentation happening later that morning.
  • February 6 – Tony sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the Acuitas notes from the Governor’s Budget Presentation
  • February 6 – Tony sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the Acuitas notes from the Executive Budget Presentation made by the State Budget Director and the accompanying budget documents.
  • February 7 – Amanda sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the Acuitas legislative update.
  • February 11 – Andrea joined Jim Blundo and Sue Schaefer for a discussion on Rep. Stone’s proposed Kindergarten ACES screening legislation.
  • February 11 — Andrea had an invitation created for the February 28 MMHCA regional meeting in Wayne County and had it delivered to Wayne County legislator offices.
  • February 12 – Andrea met with BCBS to discuss MMHCA’s LPC reimbursement issues.
  • February 14 – Tony sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the Acuitas notes from the Senate Health Policy Committee hearing.
  • February 14 – Andrea contacted Senator Moss’s office to invite him to participate in the MMHCA Human Trafficking training seminar in Southfield on February 21 and meet with Human Trafficking experts Dr. Jeremy Norwood and Joyce Haskett to discuss state legislative efforts.
  • February 16 – Andrea revised the draft MMHCA comments on the future of integrated care for MMHCA based on the feedback received and shared an updated draft with Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano.
  • February 17 –Andrea submitted MMHCA’s formal comments on the future of integrated care to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
  • February 17 – Andrea shared with Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano information regarding Livonia State Representative Laurie Pohutsky’s March 5 Opioid Town Hall.
  • February 18 – Andrea began doing follow up calls to Wayne County Legislators for the February 28 MMHCA regional meeting in Wayne County.
  • February 19 – Andrea notified Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano of the initial meeting with BCBS regarding LPC reimbursement issues and requested additional information for follow up.
  • February 19 – Andrea notified Jim Blundo Sen. Moss’s RSVP response for the MMHCA Human Trafficking training in Southfield.
  • February 19 – Tony sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the Acuitas notes from the House Appropriations: LARA Committee hearing.
  • February 19 – Tony sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the Acuitas notes from the Senate Appropriations: MDHHS Committee hearing.
  • February 20 – Andrea joined Jim Blundo for a pre-Rep. Stone strategy meeting.
  • February 20 – Andrea arranged for and joined Jim Blundo and Sue Schaefer for a meeting with Rep. Stone and her legislative director to discuss her mandatory kindergarten ACES survey legislation.
  • February 20 – Tony sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the Acuitas notes from the House Appropriations: DHHS Committee hearing.
  • February 20 – Tony sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the Acuitas notes from the House Health Policy Committee hearing.
  • February 21 — Andrea had follow up RSVP calls made to Wayne County legislators’ offices for the MMHCA regional meeting on February 28.
  • February 21 – Amanda sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the Acuitas legislative update.
  • February 26 – Tony sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the Acuitas notes from the House Ways and Means Committee hearing.
  • February 26 – Andrea provided Jim Blundo with a legislator RSVP list for the February 28 MMHCA regional meeting in Wayne County.
  • February 27 – Tony sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the Acuitas notes from the House Health Policy Committee hearing.
  • February 28 – Andrea joined Jim Blundo and Napoleon Harrington for the MMHCA Wayne County regional meeting and provided a state and federal legislative update.
  • February 28 – Tony sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the Acuitas notes from the Senate Appropriations DHHS Committee hearing.
  • March 2 – Tony sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the Acuitas notes from the MDHHS Opioid Task Force hearing.
  • March 2 – Andrea notified Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano about the March 9 DHHS Behavioral Health Transformation Provider Forum.
  • March 3 – Andrea informed Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano that DHHS had responded to MMHCA’s comments on the future of integrated care in Michigan.
  • March 4 – Tony sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the Acuitas notes from the House Appropriations DHHS Committee hearing.
  • March 4 – Andrea informed Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano about a proposed Medicaid policy related to behavioral health telepractice.
  • March 6 – Andrea forwarded to Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the notices about the LARA Board of Counseling and BOC Rules Committee meetings and agendas on March 13.
  • March 6 – Amanda sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the Acuitas legislative update.
  • March 9 – Tony sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the Acuitas notes from the House Appropriations DHHS Committee hearing.
  • March 10 – Andrea attended the DHHS public forum for providers on the Future of Behavioral Health with Jim Blundo and shared with Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the DHHS PowerPoint and her notes from the Q & A.
  • March 10 – Andrea notified Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano of new legislation (SB 826) introduced by Sen. VanderWall to expand the definition of mental health professional to include physician assistants, certified nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists-certified and allow them to conduct a substance use disorder assessment and diagnosis on an individual if ordered by the courts, and of BCBS opposition to this legislation.
  • March 10 — Andrea had an invitation created for the March 21 MMHCA regional meeting in Kent County and had it delivered to Kent County legislator offices.
  • March 11 – Andrea flagged for Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano legislation introduced by Rep. Schroeder (HB 5482) requiring that the suicide prevention hotline number be put on all student ID cards.
  • March 11 – Andrea had follow-up RSVP calls made to Kent County legislators’ offices for the MMHCA regional meeting on March 21.
  • March 11 – Tony sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the Acuitas notes from the House Appropriations DHHS Committee hearing.
  • March 12 – Tony sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the Acuitas notes from the House Health Policy Committee hearing.
  • March 12 – Andrea alerted Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano that the Board of Counseling and BOC Rules Committee meetings had been cancelled due to COVID.
  • March 12 – Andrea notified Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano of several mental health bills (HB 5615-5620) introduced in the House regarding reporting recipient deaths at psychiatric hospitals, establishing criteria for outpatient treatment, and providing mental health parity.
  • March 12 — Andrea shared with Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano information on the state’s expansion of telemedicine, including Medicaid policy changes, during the COVID pandemic.
  • March 13 – Andrea contacted BCBS to get answers to MMHCA member questions regarding reimbursement for telemental health services during the COVID pandemic.
  • March 13 — Amanda sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the Acuitas legislative update.
  • March 14 – Andrea shared with Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano information on the Governor’s Executive Order restricting entry into health care and other facilities and the establishment of a new COVID hotline.
  • March 15 – Tony sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the Acuitas notes from Governor Whitmer’s press conference with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun on the state’s response to COVID-19.
  • March 16 – Tony sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano an update from the Attorney General’s Office on the shutdown order.
  • March 16 – Andrea notified Jim Blundo about the CDC recommendations not to have gatherings of any size and inquired about the cancellation of the upcoming MMHCA board meeting, Human Trafficking trainings and Oakland County regional meeting.
  • March 16 – Andrea received feedback from BCBS regarding reimbursements for telemental health services and provided updates to MMHCA members.
  • March 16 – Andrea spoke to the Governor’s office about the expansion of telemental health services in Michigan and received clarification on coverage.
  • March 17 – Andrea joined Jim Blundo for a strategy call regarding a number of MMHCA’s COVID-related issues.
  • March 17 – Andrea contacted LARA to inquire about any exceptions that might be made to the state requirement for human trafficking training completion by May 31 and shared the LARA responses with Jim Blundo.
  • May 18 – Andrea alerted Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano that she was hearing LARA may extend license renewal deadlines for all professions for any reason by 60 days to address a variety of concerns about the ability to meet requirements and renew during the state of emergency.
  • March 18 – Andrea provided Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano with highlights regarding the $150 million in COVID-related appropriations approved by the Legislature and inquired about opportunity for MMHCA to capitalize on any of this funding.
  • March 18 – Andrea notified Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano that the Governor had called the National Guard to assist with PPE distribution.
  • March 19 – Tony sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano an announcement from Governor Whitmer regarding SBA loans now being available for small businesses.
  • March 19 – Andrea recommended to Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano that MMHCA proceed with the nomination of candidates for appointment to fill upcoming Board of Counseling vacancies.
  • March 19 – Andrea received final clarification from BCBS on LPC reimbursements for telemental health services and shared this information with MMHCA members.
  • March 19 – Andrea informed Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano that LARA was closing its offices to the public.
  • March 20 — Amanda sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the Acuitas legislative update.
  • March 20 – Andrea shared with Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano that Governor Whitmer ordered temporary restrictions on non-essential medical and dental procedures and a Medicaid bulletin on telehealth services.
  • March 20 – Andrea notified Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano that Muskegon County and the county mental health provider were suing the state due to lack of resources to provide services to the mentally ill.
  • March 21 – Andrea contacted LARA on behalf of MMHCA to inquire about the possible suspension of face-to-face supervision requirements for LLPCs during the COVID pandemic.
  • March 21 – Andrea alerted Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano about new legislation (HB 5667) introduced by Rep. Koleszar to require teachers to receive mental health training.
  • March 21 – Andrea provided guidance on the Michigan Psychological Association’s invitation to sign on to a joint letter regarding telemental health services.
  • March 22 – Andrea provided a detailed analysis of the Michigan Psychological Association’s draft letter to the Governor regarding telemental health services and recommended against signing on as most all of the issues had been addressed through a number of executive orders or related guidance documents.
  • March 23 –Andrea arranged for and joined Jim Blundo and Sue Schaefer for a meeting with DHHS contractors David Schneider and Nancy Miller on the MMHCA recommendations regarding the future of behavioral health in Michigan.
  • March 23 – Andrea alerted Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano that the Governor would be issuing a stay at home order due to COVID-19.
  • March 23 – Tony sent Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano the Acuitas notes and materials from the Governor’s press conference on the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order and an update on Michigan’s response to the COVID-19 virus.
  • March 23 – Andrea forwarded to Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano updated guidance for Healthcare Workers during the COVID pandemic.
  • March 24 – Andrea contacted LARA and the Governor’s office on behalf of MMHCA for clarity on the ability of LPCs at rural health clinics to provide telemental health services.
  • March 26 – Andrea contacted the Governor’s office to proposed MMHCA assist by providing free counseling services via the state’s hotline for those under stress during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • March 26 – Andrea arranged for and joined Jim Blundo for a meeting with Sen. Wojno and his Chief of Staff regarding his human trafficking training standards legislation.
  • March 26 – Andrea followed up with LARA regarding the “face-to-face” supervision requirements for LLPCs and how to accommodate the disclosure statement via telemental health services.
  • March 26 – Andrea informed Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano that the Governor requested a major disaster declaration from the federal government to help Michigan provide meals, temporary housing and mental health services.
  • March 26 – Andrea forwarded to Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano federal guidance for businesses to take advantage of the protections and relief offered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
  • March 27 – Andrea began working with DHHS to coordinate MMHCA’s support of free counseling services through the state’s COVID hotline for those in need.
  • March 27 – Andrea shared with Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano information on the updated COVID-19 case reporting.
  • March 27 – Andrea provided the follow up information requested by DHHS regarding MMHCA’s recommendations on the future of integrated care in Michigan.
  • March 28 – Andrea continued to work with the Governor’s office on the LPC telemental health issue at rural health clinics.
  • March 30 – Andrea shared with Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Irene Ametrano and Sue Schaeffer that the Governor announced new programs to increase and expand unemployment benefits for workers affected by COVID-19.
  • March 30 — Andrea notified Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Irene Ametrano and Sue Schaeffer of the Governor’s waiver of relicensure requirements for all health care professionals and the license reciprocity of health care workers licensed in other states, which included LPCs.
  • March 30 – Andrea continued to coordinate with DHHS on MMHCA’s support of free counseling services through the state’s COVID hotline for those in need and provided Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano with an update.
  • March 30 – Andrea provided guidance to Jim Blundo and Sue Schafer regarding engagement with Sen. Stabenow on the inclusion of S. 286 allowing LPCs to receive Medicare reimbursements in an upcoming federal COVID stimulus package.
  • March 31 – Andrea notified Jim Blundo, Napoleon Harrington, Sue Schaefer and Irene Ametrano that the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services was seeking public comment on Michigan’s Essential Health Benefits benchmark plan to enhance benefits for opioid addiction prevention and treatment.

Medicare Advocacy Shifts to Senate

The House released its fifth COVID-19 relief package on Tuesday and counselor Medicare language was not included. While this is a setback, we still have the opportunity to pass of our legislation. At the direction of our congressional champions, AMHCA is now shifting our grassroots advocacy to the Senate. We are urging counselors to take up the charge and contact your Senator to add S. 286 into its COVID-19 package. The Senate timeline is unclear, but they appear on a slower track than the House so there remains time to influence the process.

As previously reported, AMHCA is working closely with our allied organizations from counseling, MFT, and behavioral health clinics to add our language to this upcoming COVID bill.

We will not be included in the Senate COVID legislation if U.S. Senators don’t hear from you about the importance of S. 286. We urge you to contact your two Senators and ask them to include our Medicare bill in their stimulus package. 

Contact your Senators today!  Use the link below to find your Senator with email and phone numbers:

Find my Senator (top left corner)

Sample message for call or email [please fill in bracketed sections]:

I am a mental health counselor from [city/state]. I urge Senator [___] to include S. 286 in the COVID-19 relief bill currently under development.  This legislation authorizes licensed mental health counselors to provide mental health and addiction services to Medicare beneficiaries. Research shows the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to create a behavioral health crisis and there are not enough mental health professionals to meet the needs of the Medicare population.  I urge Senator [____] to increase the availability of behavioral health services by including S. 286 in the COVID-19 relief bill.  Thank you for your consideration.

House Passes Stimulus 4.0 Legislation, HEROES Act, which Includes Mental Health Resources

This timely information compliments of AMHCA and MMHCA                              May 18, 2020

James Blundo MMHCA Executive Director and AMHCA Board Member

House Passes Stimulus 4.0 Legislation, HEROES Act, which Includes Mental Health Resources

  • The House passed the HEROES Acton May 15th, which is the $3 trillion dollar stimulus package in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.
  • Here are links to more information on the legislation: bill text, and section by section summary.
  • In addition to including $1 trillion dollars in aid to states and localities for lost revenues the bill included funding and various provisions around mental health.
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration– $3 billion to increase mental health support during this challenging time, to support substance abuse treatment, and to offer increased outreach, including:

o   $1.5 billion for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant;

o   $1 billion for the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant;

o   $100 million for services to homeless individuals;

o   $100 million for Project AWARE to identify students and connect them with mental health services;

o   $10 million for the National Child Traumatic Stress Network

o   $265 million for emergency response grants to address immediate behavioral health needs as a result of COVID-19;

o   $25 million for the Suicide Lifeline and Disaster Distress Helpline; and

  • Not less $150 million for tribes, tribal organizations, urban Indian health organizations, or health service providers to tribes across a variety of programs.
  • $90 billion for a State Fiscal Stabilization Fund for grants to States to support statewide and local funding for elementary and secondary schools and public postsecondary institutions.
  • This flexible funding can support: providing school-based supports for impacted students, families, and staff, including counseling, mental health services,family engagement efforts, and the coordination of physical health services.
  • Includes National Suicide Lifeline Improvement Act

o   Sec. 601. Includes findings related to suicide and mental health crisis counseling and the importance of designating a three-digit code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

o   Sec. 602. Universal Telephone Number for National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Hotline System: Designates 9-8-8 as the universal dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

o   Sec. 603. State Authority over Fees: Allows states to impose a fee or charge on voice service subscribers’ bills for the support or implementation of 9-8-8 services for the support of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

o   Sec. 604. Location Identification Report. Requires the FCC to evaluate and submit a report to Congress on the feasibility and cost of automatically providing the dispatch able location of calls to 9-8-8.

o   Sec. 605. Report on Certain Training Programs. Requires the Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use to submit a report to Congress that details a strategy for offering support or providing technical assistance for training programs for National Suicide Prevention Lifeline counselors to increase competency in serving LGBTQ youth.

  • Section 30618. Research on the mental health impact of COVID–19: Directs the NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health to support research on the mental health consequences of COVID-19, including the impact on health care providers.
  • Section 30619. Emergency mental health and substance use training and technical assistance center: Establishes a technical assistance center at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that will support public or nonprofit entities and public health professionals seeking to establish or expand access to mental health and substance use services associated with the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • Section 30633.Grants to address substance use during COVID-19: Authorizes SAMHSA to award grants to support local, tribal, and state substance use efforts that need further assistance as a result of COVID-19.
  • Section 80013. Vet Center mental health care and services for National Guard and Reserve members responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency: Permits any National Guard or Reserve member to receive mental health care at Vet Centers if deployed for more than 14 days in support of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

MIOSHA Workplace Guidelines, New Hotline to Protect Michigan Workers

MIOSHA Workplace Guidelines, New Hotline to
Protect Michigan Workers
Employers must take necessary precautions to reduce
the spread of COVID-19

LANSING, MICH.  As the curve continues to flatten and many businesses reopen their doors, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) within the Dept. of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) issued workplace guidelines for employers and employees and created a new hotline, 855-SAFEC19 (855-723-3219), to answer guideline questions and further protect Michigan’s workforce from the spread of COVID-19.  

Additionally, MIOSHA provides further clarification the construction and manufacturing sectors must take to protect workers that have returned to work. The State of Michigan’s Workplace Safety Guidelines can be found on LEO’s homepage at Michigan.gov/LEO.   

“We have to be smart about protecting our workforce and issuing these guidelines helps us ensure businesses reopen safely,” LEO Director Jeff Donofrio said. “And when employers have the proper guidance to protect their employees and customers, we can all do our part to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 and continue to save lives.”  

On a scale from low to very high, exposure determination is the leading factor to the level of precaution an employer should take to protect their employees and can vary within the same facility. 

Employers must create a written exposure control plan which includes exposure determination and outlines measures that will be taken to prevent employee exposure to COVID-19, including as appropriate:  

  • Engineering controls
  • Administrative controls
  • Hand hygiene and environmental surface disinfection
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Health surveillance
  • Training

Incorporating the latest guidance for COVID-19 from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Governor’s Executive Orders on reopening industries.  

A key component to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is the ability for employers to provide adequate training on potential risk to their employees. Under these guidelines, MIOSHA encourages training that includes steps the employee must take to notify the employer of signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and reporting suspected or confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19. Employers are to provide updated training to employees if changes are made to its exposure control plan or new information becomes available about the transmission of COVID-19.  

“As the governor follows the science and data to re-engage our economy, our first priority is to protect workers from the spread of COVID-19,” MIOSHA Director Bart Pickelman said. “If employers follow the workplace guidelines, we can ensure Michiganders can return home healthy and safe.” 

Best practices that employees need to follow to be vigilant in protecting themselves from exposure to COVID-19:

  • Wash hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water,
  • Limit contact with others by remaining six feet apart,
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and tools routinely,
  • Stay home if you or someone in your household is sick,
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, and
  • Practice self-screenings to check for any symptoms.

The new toll-free number will provide additional support, utilizing experienced MIOSHA staff, to best answer questions from employers and workers to quickly respond to inquiries related to COVID for all involved. Employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health may contact MIOSHA using the new hotline at 855-SAFEC19 (855-723-3219). 

To report health and safety concerns in the workplace, go to www.michigan.gov/MIOSHAcomplaint.

Learn more about MIOSHA and their efforts to protect Michigan’s workforce at Michigan.gov/MIOSHA. 

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at michigan.gov/coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus. 

###

Media Contact: Jason Moon, 517-282-0041 or MoonJ@Michigan.gov

“AMHCA Code of Ethics” addresses CMHC’s crucial concerns.

The “AMHCA Code of Ethics” focuses on the specific requirements for the ethical practice of clinical mental health counselors (CMHCs), and is divided into six sections:

  1. Commitment to Clients
  2. Commitment to Other Professionals
  3. Commitment to Students, Supervisees, and Employee Relationships
  4. Commitment to the Profession
  5. Commitment to the Public
  6. Resolution of Ethical Problems

The “AMHCA Code” is an essential component of practicing clinical mental health counseling with professionalism and integrity. While ethical guidance for the practice of clinical mental health counseling is its primary purpose, it is also intended to prompt pondering about ethical thinking and practice. To be an ethical mental health counselor is to practice thinking ethically in an ongoing self-deliberation and in discussions with other mental health professionals.

CLICK HERE FOR LINK

Urgent Need for Grassroots this Weekend to Include Counselors in Medicare

Urgent Need for Grassroots this Weekend to Include Counselors in Medicare

The House is developing its next COVID-19 relief package and mental health counselors are urged to contact your Representative in support of including our Medicare legislation (H.R. 945) in it. Congress will be working through the weekend to decide what is going into the House legislation so time is of the essence.

As previously reported, AMHCA is working closely with our allied organizations from counseling, MFT, and behavioral health clinics to add our language to this upcoming COVID bill. Our sponsors, Representatives Thompson (D-CA) and Katko (R-NY), are fighting hard for inclusion, but we need grassroots advocacy to support the effort.

It is imperative that U.S. Representatives hear from counselor constituents about the importance of H.R. 945. We urge you to contact your Representative today and ask them to include our Medicare bill in the stimulus package.

Contact your Representative today! Use the link below to find your Representative with email and phone numbers:

Find my Representative

Sample message for call or email [please fill in bracketed sections]:

I am a mental health counselor from [city/state]. I urge Representative [___] to include H.R. 945 in the COVID-19 relief bill currently under development. This legislation authorizes licensed mental health counselors to provide mental health and addiction services to Medicare beneficiaries. Research shows the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to create a behavioral health crisis and there are not enough mental health professionals to meet the needs of the Medicare population. I urge Rep. [____] to increase the availability of behavioral health services by including H.R. 945 in the COVID-19 relief bill. Thank you for your consideration.

Telehealth: Updates on States Offering Licensure Portability During COVID-19 Pandemic

Updates on States Offering Licensure Portability During COVID-19 Pandemic

One of the many factors complicating clinical mental health counseling work in the current COVID-19 situation is cross-jurisdictional licensure.

To help navigate these waters, please see a summary of licensure requirement changes for medical and behavioral health providers on a state-by-state basis, and please see the link to each state’s COVID-19 resource page.

http://theshrinkspace.blog/covid-19-teletherapy-across-state-lines/?fbclid=IwAR2Mv98w6wQW4F_Cbp9AzsTzz2M-iP6lC6LgThWAQ_NNURbQ1waInZqpTU0

Act Today to Include Counselors in Medicare!

Michigan Mental Health Counselors Association

Jim Blundo, MMHCA Executive Director  www.mmhca.org

Act Today to Include Counselors in Medicare!

As stated by the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA)

On April 21, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) released a report recommending mental health counselors be added to the list of Medicare providers.  The timing couldn’t be better as AMHCA ramps up efforts to motivate counselors to contact your legislators in support of including our Medicare legislation (H.R. 945/S. 286) in future COVID-19 relief legislation.

The BPC is a well-respected bipartisan think tank comprised of former senior policymakers. The report, “Confronting Rural America’s Health Care Crisis”, was prepared by the Rural Health Task Force, led by former Senate Majority Leaders Tom Daschle and Bill Frist, M.D. The report provides bipartisan policy recommendations to stabilize and transform rural health infrastructure, promote the uptake of value-based and virtual care, and ensure access to local providers.  Adding licensed mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists to the list of Medicare-covered providers was a key recommendation for ensuring an adequate rural health care workforce.

The BPC highlighted how the report’s policy recommendations offer solutions to the challenges raised by the COVID-19 pandemic. This link parallels AMHCA’s efforts to include our Medicare legislation in future COVID-19 stimulus legislation. AMHCA is working closely with our allied organizations from counseling, MFT, and behavioral health clinics to add our language to the next COVID bill. We have received some interest from congressional offices, but have much work to do.

To be successful, we need your help!  It is imperative that U.S. Representatives and Senators hear from counselor constituents about the importance of H.R. 945 and S. 286. We urge you to contact your legislators today and ask them to include our Medicare bills in the next COVID-19 package.

Contact your Representative and Senator today!  Use the links below to find your federal legislators with email and phone numbers:

Find my Representative

Find my Senator (top left corner)

Sample message for call or email [fill in bracketed section providing separate messages to Representative and Senators]:

I am a mental health counselor from [city/state]. I urge [Rep. ____ / Sen. ____] to include [H.R. 945/S. 286] in the next COVID-19 relief bill.  This legislation authorizes mental health counselors to provide mental health and addiction services to Medicare beneficiaries. Research shows the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to create a behavioral health crisis and there are not enough mental health professionals to meet the needs of the Medicare population.  I urge [Rep. ____ / Sen. ____] to increase the availability of behavioral health services by including [H.R. 945/S. 286] in the next COVID-19 relief bill.  Thank you for your consideration.

If We don’t do it, then who will? Let’s get ready for a big Medicare push in May!

AMHCA Message from Board Member, Eric Beeson

I want to thank you all for your continued support of one another on the forums. It is great to see this power of the collective coming together.

I am writing today to encourage another act of collective power.

As you may know, the practice privileges of clinical mental health counselors have been prohibited by the Medicare system since its inception. During the COVID-19 crisis, there are many stimulus bills being discussed and some practice guidelines are being adjusted. The next two stimulus packages, #4 and #5, that will be up for consideration in May and June provide us a tremendous opportunity to make substantial strides in our Medicare policy recommendations.

Please know that the AMHCA national office remains active and engaged in this dialogue alongside of our sibling associations across the mental health care field and Medicare Access Coalition. In May, the AMHCA National Office will be launching a coordinated effort with these groups to ensure consistency in message and power in our collective voices.

As we prepare for this major advocacy push in May, I am challenging us to begin thinking about how we will participate at an individual level.

If I don’t do it, then who will?  If we don’t, then who will?

The Challenge

Start crafting your personal messages of advocacy today.

Start crafting your message in written, audio, and video form.

In your message, consider the following:

  • Remind them of your readiness to aid in the mental health care response to COVID-19 as a clinical mental health counselor.
  • Urge the inclusion of all qualified mental health care providers, including clinical mental health counselors, in any new policy regarding the mental health care response to COVID-19 and beyond.
  • Reference H.R. 945, The Mental Health Access Improvement Act in your message.
  • Talk about why Medicare provider recognition matters to you and those you serve.

Start/continue building relationships with your policymakers, especially those on the Senate Committee on Finance: https://www.finance.senate.gov/about/membership and the Ways and Means Committee: https://waysandmeans.house.gov/about/committee-members.

So, let’s prepare and act today. Let’s act tomorrow. Let’s act until this bill becomes a reality!

Feel free to review former messages at https://www.amhca.org/advocacy/medicare, and I shared a personal example that I wrote up today, but know that many more resources and tangible next steps will be shared in the coming weeks.

Thank you all again for your time and services.

Let’s do this!

Be well,
Eric

Eric’s Sample Message:

Hello,

My name is Eric Beeson, and I am a clinical mental health counselor. As a qualified mental health care provider, I am uniquely trained and ready to assist in the mental health care response to COVID-19. I am also the 43rd president of the American Mental Health Counselors Association.

I am recognized by private insurance companies, the National health Service Corps, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and TRICARE to provide mental health care to our citizens; however, I am prohibited from doing so if a client is a Medicare beneficiary.

Therefore, I urge you to ensure that all qualified mental health care providers, including clinical mental health counselors, can practice at the top of their license and are included in any new policy that is created. This call to action aligns well with H.R. 945, The Mental Health Access Improvement Act.

People are struggling and will continue to struggle to recover from the recent pandemic. Therefore, I encourage you to eliminate barriers that prevent our citizens from accessing a ready and willing workforce of clinical mental health counselors that are ready and able to care for the mental health care needs of our citizens.

Thank you for your consideration!

Respectfully,

Eric T. Beeson, PhD

Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor

Licensed Professional Counselors

43rd President of the American Mental Health Counselors Association

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