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 Supplement Newsletter 9 28 2019

Click here for September 2019 MMHCA Newsletter.

Click here for July 2019 MMHCA Newsletter.

Click here for April 2019 MMHCA Newsletter.

Click here for January 2019 MMHCA Newsletter.

Click here for August 2018 MMHCA Newsletter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PA 96 (formerly HB 4325) Frequently Asked Questions

 

 

 

Living document prepared and kept current for MMHCA by:

Dr. Sue Schaeffer,Co-Chair of MMHCA Public Policy Committee, Author of PA 96

Dr. Irene Ametrano, Co-Chair of MMHCA Public Policy Committee, Author of PA 96

James Blundo, LPC, MMHCA Executive Director

Napoleon Harrington, LPC, MMHCA President

Andrea Cascarilla, Legislative Director for Acuitas (Government relations firm employed by MMHCA)

NOTE:   PA 96 of 2019 is not the entire counseling licensure law.   It only represents the parts of the current law that have been changed.  The current law is Part 181 Counseling (Sec. 333.18101 – 333.18117) of the Public Health Code.  In the responses below, any references to a section that does not appear in PA 96 can be found in Part 181 of the Michigan Public Health Code.

Link to Part 181 of the MI Public Health Code

Please read PA 96 for more information.   Link to PA 96

 

Link to PA 96 (formerly HB 4325) Frequently Asked Questions 

Telehealth Update from BCBS and BCN

Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan and Blue Care Network are using new codes for online visits starting in January 2020.

Category: Billing, telehealth

Title: Using new codes for online visits starting in January 2020

On December 31, 2019, procedure code *98969 and *99444 will no longer be payable for an online visit.

Starting on January 1, 2020, physicians must submit their claims using one of the new patient-initiated, digital communication codes: *99421, *99422, or *99423. For services provided by a non physician, use the codes *98970, *98971, or *98972.

*CPT codes, descriptions and two-digit numeric modifiers only are copyright 2018 American Medical Association.

All rights reserved.

House Bill 4325 Is Now Public Act 96 of 2019

Michigan mental-health counselors applaud unanimous, bi-partisan support as licensing bill signed into law

LANSING, Mich., October 29, 2019 – Michigan mental health counselors applauded as House Bill 4325 sponsored by Rep. Aaron Miller (R-Sturgis) was signed into law today by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.  Now Public Act 96 of 2019, the new law ensures Michigan’s licensed professional counselors (LPCs) can continue to provide treatment to hundreds of thousands of residents in need.

“This new law will ensure that more than 150,000 Michiganders can still access critical mental health care,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “And it will protect 10,000 professional counselors from losing the ability to practice as they currently do. We must continue to work hard to ensure every Michigander has access to critical mental health care, and this is a step in the right direction.”

According to the Michigan Mental Health Counselors Association (MMHCA), the passage of HB 4325 was a critical priority for counselors across the state as the legislation negated rule changes formally proposed by the Department of Licensing and Regulation (LARA) this summer.  Those changes would have effectively prohibited Michigan’s counselors from practicing.

“Michigan, like many other states, has a mental health crisis.  There simply aren’t enough counselors and other mental health professionals to meet the growing demand for services,” said MMHCA Executive Director Jim Blundo.  “Rep. Miller’s common-sense legislation provided a solution to the state’s concerns that avoided causing harm to the counseling profession and those in need of mental health treatment.”

MMHCA led the statewide grassroots advocacy efforts on HB 4325 that included thousands of emails, calls and social media contacts with state legislators and a 1,500-person rally at the rules public hearing.  Several hundred LPCs also spoke out at the legislative committee hearings and attended House and Senate session votes on the bill.  The well-coordinated effort is credited for the legislation’s swift and unanimous bipartisan approval in both the state House and Senate.

“LPCs are the frontline of mental health care in our state and their passion for what they do led them to the front line of advocacy on this issue,” said Rep. Miller.  “Along the way they become a very powerful voice and demonstrated to Lansing, our state and our country how grassroots advocacy is done.”

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HB4325 will be signed by Governor Whitmer October 29th.

It has barely been six weeks since MMHCA sounded the alarm – the call to action that united LLPCs and LPCs and our allies across Michigan. It is with awe and gratitude that we thank each of you for all you did to help HB4325 get passed UNANIMOUSLY by 3 legislative committees, the full House and the full senate on its way to being signed into law!! Together we faced and surmounted a severe threat to our license and profession. It is with great joy we bring you the following news and invitation to celebrate.
 
Signing Date HB4325
Governor Whitmer  will sign HB4325 into law on  Tuesday, October 29, at 11:30am.
(very few people are allowed to be present for the actual signing)
 
Invitation day of Signing
  • MMHCA invites you to lunch on Tuesday, 10/29/19, at the Radisson Hotel, 111 N. Grand Ave. in Lansing (about one block from the Capitol).
  • Please arrive at the Radisson about 11:30am.
  • Lunch and drinks are available (please plan to pay for your own lunch and drink costs).
  • Please wear green ribbons.
  • MMHCA looks forward to celebrating with you if you can make it!!
Message from James Blundo, Executive Director for MMHCA
Michigan Mental Health Counseling Association – funded the amazing lobbyist and put over 30 years of experience toward helping to make HB4325 happen!

Representative Miller’s congratulations to us 

After the full Senate unanimously passed HB 4325 on 10/17/19.

Click Here

Please check our Facebook page (Michigan Mental Health Counselors Association) for other announcements and information.

Counselor Bill Flies Through Senate Without Debate

A bill that would maintain the scope of practice for licensed professional counselors and block controversial rules being promulgated by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs is headed to Governor Gretchen Whitmer‘s desk after breezing through the Senate unanimously Thursday.

Movement on HB 4325 began in response to rules being promulgated by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. The proposed rules would remove the ability for counselors to diagnose and offer psychotherapy.

LARA officials have said they need to begin existing rules into line with current statute, which does not allow those practices by counselors even though counselors have been doing so since they became a licensed profession in 1989. HB 4325 would clarify that counselors can continue to diagnose and offer psychotherapy.

On Thursday, the Senate voted 38-0 in favor of the bill, which was quickly messaged to the House and enrolled.

Supporters of HB 4325 packed the Senate gallery prior to session Thursday. Before the chamber began working through its agenda, Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist welcomed the crowd while also providing a reminder of Senate rules prohibiting loud demonstrations in support or opposition to legislative action. A similar crowd had gathered in the House gallery when it passed the bill last week and cheered after the bill’s passage.

The crowd in the gallery heeded the Lt. Governor’s words, although a smattering of cheers could be heard coming from the hallway outside of the Senate chamber following the vote.

Ms. Whitmer spoke briefly about the bill to reporters Thursday following an event she was attending.

“Obviously we are actively working with the Legislature to make sure that any concerns in the administration are addressed. It’s I think a bill that was necessitated because of a long overdue policy change at LARA,” Ms. Whitmer said. “This was something that I think we can make some good changes to and hopefully get something to my desk that I’ll sign.”

Following the vote, the group in support of the legislation celebrated on the Capitol steps, posing for group photos and cheering words of encouragement from the bill sponsor Rep. Aaron Miller (R-Sturgis) and others.

The group briefly chanted “sign the bill” from the Capitol steps.

Job Opening for Behavior/Mental Health Support Specialist in Clinton County

Under the direct supervision of the Special Education Director, and in accordance with established

policies and procedures, the Behavior/Mental Health Support Specialist performs a variety of tasks

necessary to support educators, paraprofessionals, other educational support staff and parents for the

implementation of Positive Behavior Intervention Support through a Multi-Tiered System of Support

(MTSS) from early childhood through high school.

The Behavior/Mental Health Support Specialist will provide training, coaching, technical support and

coordination of activities focused on Positive Behavior Intervention Supports within Clinton County

RESA’s service area. The Behavior/Mental Health Support Specialist will coordinate and assist with

behavioral observations, support collection of data, participate in team data analyses, consult on the

development of functional behavior assessments and behavior intervention plans, and build capacity and

competency levels of building level staff and intervention teams in these activities. The specialist will

work with students, families, and staff to identify barriers that limit student success, and will develop

strategies and resources to improve attendance, reduce behavior incidents and promote family

engagement. For more information contact:

Jennifer Branch

Career Education Director, CCRESA
(989) 224-6831, ext. 2334

 

Please corroborate any story you hear before passing it along to others.

Jim Blundo requests that you clear with a MMHCA Board Member prior to any kind of communications with print/tv/radio media. The reason is because we are at a critical moment in our push to pass the HB4325. LARA is still planning on moving forward with the Administrative Rule changes. The Governor is in support of our legislation. Currently, we are in discussions with Senate members. Please contact your personal Senator prior to next week!

There seems to be a lot of misinformation being spread. Please corroborate any story you hear before passing it along to others. These stories could hurt our cause!

You can find the contact information for the MMHCA Board Members on the Leadership page of our website.

Thank You for all you are doing!

Sara Sue Schaeffer October 1, 2019 meeting notes for Preparing for Friday’s Hearing

Action Items for HB 4325 and Protesting LARA’s Change in Scope of Practice

by Sara Sue Schaeffer, MMHCA Public Policy and Legislative Co-Chair

  • Call the Governor’s office at 517-335-7858 or send an electronic message to express both your support for HB 4325 and your opposition to LARA’s proposed rules changes. (https://somgovweb.state.mi.us/GovRelations/ShareOpinion.aspx)
  • Call or email your State Representative and State Senator to express both your support for HB 4325 and your opposition to LARA’s proposed rules changes. A list of legislators’ contact information is included.
  • Attend the October 4, LARA Public Hearing and present your case against LARA’s proposed change to the LPC scope of practice rules. The meeting starts at 9:00 a.m. and will be held at the G. Mennen Williams building auditorium located at 525 W. Ottawa in Lansing.  (maps for parking are also included in this packet)  Additionally, please email LARA your viewpoint until 5:00 pm on October 4, 2019.  The address is BPL-boardsupport@mi.gov
  • Talk to everyone you know and ask them to also act. Many counselors still don’t know about this situation. Encourage them to join the “Michigan LPCs for HB 4325 & Against LARA SOP Changes” Facebook group and sign the Michigan LPC’s Change.Org petition. (https://www.change.org/p/michigan-state-house-protect-michigan-licensed-professional-counselors-licensure)

Here is an outline for your comments to LARA.  The outline is only an idea to formulate your speech or letter.  Personalize it and be sure to emphasize the harm this will cause the public. Try to keep your speech to 3 minutes for the hearing.

  • Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you.
  • Your name, credentials, years of practice, experience and where you got your college degree
  • How will this personally effect you? Loss of career, license, ability to practice
  • LARA’s proposed repeal of definitions under the LPC rules, which have been in effect since the counseling law was passed in 1988, will change the scope of practice for counselors including their ability to diagnose.
  • Talk about the impact this will have on your clients (the pain this will cause them). Discuss the state’s responsibility to protect the public.  How can taking the therapists of over 150,000 clients away be productive?  There is a mental health crisis and a shortage of mental health therapists.  LARA’s actions will only eliminate 10,000 more clinicians and cause great harm to the public.
  • Training in treatment and diagnosis. Are you qualified as an expert? Detail how.
  • Licensed psychologists do not go to homes and schools to provide therapy like LPCs do and most do not take Medicaid. There is room – and a huge need — for all of us to practice.
  • Encourage the LARA Board to wait on implementing their proposed rule changes. Tell them the solution that meets both LARA’s needs and LPCs’ needs is HB 4325. Urge LARA to give HB 4325 time to be passed into law.
  • Thank LARA for listening.

Here is a sample letter.  Please be sure to personalize this.

Dear ______________,

As a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in your district, I am writing to urge your support of HB 4325.  (Include some background about where you earned your degree, how long you’ve been practicing, what setting you’re working in, how many clients you counsel, etc.)

HB 4325, which was introduced by Rep. Aaron Miller and passed unanimously out of the House Health Policy Committee on September 19, would ensure the much-needed clinical mental health counseling work of LPCs continues in Michigan.  The legislation makes technical, but critical updates to our licensing statute.  Most importantly it codifies into law provisions regarding a counselor’s scope of practice that have been in rules and in practice since the LPC statute was passed in 1988.  The key provision in these long-standing rules is the ability to diagnose, for which counselors receive substantial training and are legally and ethically required to do.   This bill in no way changes a counselor’s scope of practice or who is eligible for licensure — it would continue the same as it has been for more than 30 years.

These updates to the statute are needed right away as the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) is currently proposing to eliminate the rules related to LPC’s scope of practice altogether.  The repeal of these rules will result in the inability of Michigan’s 10,000 LPCs to provide counseling services and will leave hundreds of thousands of individuals without mental health care. With a public hearing scheduled for this coming Friday, October 4, the rules could be sent to the Joint Committee on Legislative Rules (JCAR) immediately following the hearing for the mandatory 15-session day JCAR review before they go into effect in November.  Passage of HB 4325 will nullify these LARA rule changes.

Again, please vote yes on HB 4325.  The passage of this bill is vital to retaining strong mental health counseling services for Michiganders.  Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.

Please also refer to the FAQ document which can be found in another post on this website. Click Here.

Go to the MMHCA Facebook Page (Michigan Mental Health Counselors Association) to see a video of the October 1 Meeting.

Video on what is happening with HB4325, LARA’s Proposed rule changes & the October 4th meeting

Napoleon Video

Counselors and Friends, I wanted to take a moment to help share information on what is happening with HB4325, LARA’s Proposed rule changes and the October 4th, meeting. Please share with colleagues and those that want to become clearer on the challenge at hand. We are optimistic and strategically addressing the concerns of those that may not agree with our efforts.

Counselors – chins up and shoulders back, we have some of the best minds in Michigan and beyond working to resolve this issue. Remember, worry doesn’t help us- worry is the “interest” that we pay on problems that have not happened. Stay encouraged – and continue working diligently with all the parties involved to contact the Legislators that represent you and encourage them to be mindful of the impact of the proposed rule changes.

Can’t wait to see you and shake your hands, give you a hi-5, or a hug on October 4th!

Thank you for all you do.

Napoleon Harrington, President, MMHCA

#HB4325 #ProtectMichiganCounselors #Advocacy #LPC #LLPC #Courage