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.

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