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 June 2020 MMHCA Newsletter

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

 

 

 

 

PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR NEWS AND IMPORTANT POSTS!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

House Committee Considers H.R. 945 – Urgent Action Requested to Contact Your Congressional Representative

Some News with Regards to Medicare Reimbursement to Mental Health Counselors!

On June 30, the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a legislative hearing that included H.R. 945, which provides Medicare reimbursement to mental health counselors. The Heath Subcommittee hearing on “High Anxiety and Stress: Legislation to Improve Mental Health During Crisis” considered 22 bills to improve both quality and access to mental health care in America.

This historic hearing was the first time that counselor Medicare legislation was evaluated as a stand-alone measure. All previous congressional action included our legislation as a piece of a broader health care package. During the hearing, Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-VA) strategically highlighted the significant benefits of H.R. 945.

The Energy and Commerce Committee is expected to hold a markup of a selection of these mental health bills in the future. It is critical that H.R. 945 be included in list of bills for markup. To ensure that happens, Representatives need to hear from mental health counselors in their district about the importance of including our bill.

We urge you to contact your Representative this week and ask him/her to include H.R. 945 in the House Energy and Commerce markup of mental health legislation.

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 request inclusion of H.R. 945 in the Energy and Commerce Committee markup of mental health legislation. H.R. 945 authorizes licensed mental health counselors to provide mental health and addiction services to Medicare beneficiaries. H.R. 945 ensures that 40% of the mental health workforce is available to deal with the behavioral health crisis that is being created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Access to care was a key priority of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s legislative hearing and H.R. 945 was the only bill that expanded the clinical workforce to meet the growing demand. I urge Rep. [____] to increase the availability of behavioral health services by requesting inclusion of H.R. 945 in the Energy and Commerce Committee markup of mental health legislation. Thank you for your consideration.

Governor Reissues the Emergency Order 2020-138 for Telehealth!

Below is the correct posting for the Governor’s new executive order on Telehealth.

EO 2020-138 Emerg order – telehealth – re-issue

MMHCA would like to highlight two parts of what the governor orders at the end:

Number 5 which references the law requiring that the provider be licensed in Michigan to provide Telehealth to Michigan residents and relaxes this requirement while the state of emergency is in place.

Number 7 (b) which defines “healthcare providers” As including health professionals licensed under article 15 of the public health code which includes LPC’s. This addresses the question that seems to be asked a lot, “does this include us?”

We have included two other pieces of information: MCL 500.3476, The law requiring that providers of telehealth to Michigan residents be licensed in Michigan CLICK HERE, and the definition of telehealth in the public health code CLICK HERE.

GPS Practice in Lansing Has Two Positions Open for Fully Licensed Therapists

GPS currently has two positions open for fully licensed therapists.  GPS is a trauma informed practice and utilize EMDR, and other trauma informed practices.  They work a lot with addiction as well as general mental health.
The GPS offices are newly remodeled and they have awesome technology!  So when they resume face to face sessions (utilizing telehealth right now during COVID-19) you will have a beautiful office.
Please send resumes to Nicole Dingwell at ndingwell@guidetopersonalsolutions.com
The website is down right now due to a web engineering problem with the host.  But I can certainly send you some info about our practice.
GPS Guide to Personal Solutions
1801 E Saginaw St Ste 1
Lansing MI 48912
Main Phone: 517-667-0061
Cell Phone: 517-599-1247

Gov. Whitmer Signs Bills Increasing Health Care Access Into Law

Sharing that the Governor signed the telehealth bills below into law. This legislative proposal was initiated prior to COVID and applies to the state Medicaid and Healthy Michigan Plan programs. It will be of interest to MMHCA members who have Medicaid clients.

June 24, 2020

Contact: Press@michigan.gov

Gov. Whitmer Signs Bills Increasing Health Care Access Into Law

LANSING, Mich. — Today, Governor Whitmer signed House Bills 5412-5416, which increase access to health care for Michiganders through telemedicine and remote patient monitoring services. The governor also signed Senate Bill 940 into law.

“I was pleased to sign bills today that will increase access to healthcare in Michigan by ensuring that telemedicine and remote patient monitoring services will be covered by insurers and by Medicaid,” said Governor Whitmer in her signing letter to the Legislature. “These bills codify significant pieces of Executive Order 2020-86, which broadly expanded access to telemedicine as part of Michigan’s emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, the virtues of telemedicine are not unique to this moment, so Michiganders will benefit from reduced costs, increased accessibility, and lower transmission rates of infectious diseases at the doctor’s office for years to come.”

House Bills 5412, 5413, 5414, 5415, and 5416 make up a bill package designed to facilitate remote provision of healthcare services. The bills require health insurance companies and group/non-group healthcare services to cover telemedicine visits without requiring in-person visits. The bill package was sponsored by Representative Hank Vaupel, R-Howell (HB 5412), Representative Doug Wozniak, R-Shelby Twp. (HB 5413), Representative Phil Green, R-Huron Twp. (HB 5414), Representative Frank Liberati, D-Allen Park (HB 5415), and Representative Mary Whiteford, R-Allegan (HB 5416).

Senate Bill 940 delays the principal residence exemption application deadline under certain circumstances related to the COVID state of emergency. The bill was sponsored by Senator Roger Victory, R-Grand Haven.

To view the governor’s signing letter to the legislature, click the link below:

Please Review Executive Orders 2020-114 and 2020-115

To: All Occupational and Health Professional Licensees

Dear Licensed Professional:

Please review Executive Orders 2020-114 and 2020-115 that were issued today as they may contain information directly impacting your profession.

Executive Order 2020-114 – Safeguards to protect Michigan’s workers from COVID-19 (outlines requirements for industries to follow to protect workers and clients).

Executive Order 2020-115 – Temporary restrictions on certain events, gatherings, and businesses (expands re-opening of personal care services).

Sincerely,

Bureau of Professional Licensing

 

Andrea Cascarilla was named senior legislative director at Acuitas!

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Acuitas Recognizes Talent of One of Lansing’s Best Lobbyists

LANSING, Mich., June 2, 2020 – Lansing-based government relations firm, Acuitas, has given a team member a new title in recognition of her leadership and exemplary work on many levels.

Andrea Cascarilla was named senior legislative director at Acuitas after seven years with the company.

“As more organizations seek out our firm to achieve their government relations goals, we discovered a need to expand Andrea’s role on our team, particularly working with clients and mentoring fellow team members,” said Kevin Korpi, principal. “Andrea has served with integrity and distinction. As a lead lobbyist since nearly the beginning, she has earned a tremendous amount of respect and trust for her integral work.

Most recently, Cascarilla was recognized by state Rep. Aaron Miller, R-Sturgis, former Rep. Isaac Robinson, D-Detroit, and the Michigan Mental Health Counselors Association for her work on PA 96 of 2019 – a law that ensures Michigan’s licensed professional counselors can continue to provide treatment to hundreds of thousands of residents in need.

As a result of the successful creation of PA 96, Cascarilla was recognized by the MMHCA as an honorary member of their organization. They cited her efforts of steadfastness, positive and tireless energy, and commitment as reasons for receiving the award.

The framed certificate reads, “We are proud to have engaged the very best lobbyist to support our cause for the protection of Michigan LLPC/LPC’s and have the testimony that proves it. Your expertise was evident and successful…”.

Cascarilla is responsible for managing many clients and throughout her time at Acuitas and has played a direct role in several successful appropriations efforts for clients to help them improve our state, from health care and education to infrastructure and economic development.

“Andrea’s accomplishments with Acuitas are numerous, extraordinary, and prove just how instrumental she is to the team,” said Sarah Hubbard, principal.

To learn more about Andrea, read her bio on our team page: acuitasllc.com/team member

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MMHCA is very proud to have Andrea on our team! She has moved our profession forward in so many ways.
Andrea positions LLPC/LPCs to the forefront of the mental health delivery system.

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.

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