Legislative and Policy Updates
WMHCA is your voice in Olympia
Here’s an update on our latest activities regarding government issues -- legislation, regulations, court cases, etc — that affects us as mental health counselors. If there are other issues you want us to be engaged with, please let us know. We value your input.”
Meet with a Legislator
If you are a member and would like to schedule a meeting with your Senator or Representatives Sara can help facilitate that. Legislators are always interested in hearing about the issues that impact their constitutes. Please reach out to Sara if you want to schedule something. email@example.com
Sara Stewart is retained by WMHCA as our lobbyist. She advocates for us during legislative session and keeps us up to date with information throughout the year.
From our Spring Newsletter---The single most important thing WMHCA will do this year is introduce legislation for WMHCA to join the counseling compact. The Counseling Compact is an interstate compact, or a contract among states, allowing professional counselors licensed and residing in a compact member state to practice in other compact member states without need for multiple licenses.
On April 19th, 2022 Nebraska became the 10th state to sign the Interstate Counseling Compact bill into law. This means the Interstate Counseling Compact has now met the minimum threshold of states needed to enact the compact implementation for those states will begin soon.
WMCHA is in full support of the compact. It allows LMHCs licensed and residing in a compact member state the privilege to practice in other compact member states, without the time-consuming hassle of obtaining a second license. It increases a clinician's mobility and it decreases disruption for the consumer when moving for college, military service, or other personal reasons. This compact only covers the LMHC license and does not extend to other licensed professions.
Over the last 12 months, WMHCA began the work to introduce legislation to join the compact in 2023. Before joining the compact, Washington will need to align it's educational requirements for LMHC's to that of the compact. There are couple different ways this could be done and WMHCA is exploring all the options. The compact specifies minimum licensing standards required to join including a 60 semester credit hour (or 90 quarter-hour) Masters degree in counseling aligned with the CACREP standards. Our current legislation does not specify credits for a master's degree. Without this change, Washington is ineligible to join the compact.
If the standards change, all currently licensed individuals will be able to join the compact as the compact focuses on current standards for new professionals. Individuals licensed before the change can still engage in the compact. WMHCA reviewed all current Washington state programs offering Clinical Mental Health Counseling Masters degrees to verify that they meet this proposed licensing change.
Once the standards education standards are changed WMHCA plans on introducing legislation for Washington to join the compact. WMHCA has partnered with the ACA of Washington to do this work. We are collaborating with the Department of Health during this process as well. We want no surprises going into session in hopes to get the
compact to pass the first time around
Policy Updates and Changes-What We're Paying Attention to
Apple Health Provider Rate Increases-The 2021-23 state operating budget includes a 2 percent increase for all services paid through the behavioral health portion of the managed care capitation rates. This rate increase is retroactively effective back to April 1, 2021. Providers will see this change effective in their payments beginning in October 2021; however, there are multiple contracting arrangements and other factors that may affect timing for these distributions. Provider Billing Guides and Fee Schedules
Telemedicine and Audio-Only ESHB 1196 removes this exclusion from the coverage requirement, establishes conditions for coverage of such services and amends statutory language related to telemedicine payment parity. Rules may be needed to clarify terms related to several components of the new law. Such rules will facilitate implementation of the law by ensuring that all affected entities understand their rights and obligations under the new law. WMHCA is working with legislators to define what audio-only means for therapist and to clarify definitions around established relationships.
Telemedicine and audio-only telemedicine services (R 2021-06)- We attended the Stakeholder meeting on August 6, 2021. After the meeting we provided additional written comments. Here is the link for more information from the Office of the Insurance Commissioner.
On September 23rd, a CR-101 was filed with the Code Reviser regarding the implementation of Engrossed Senate Substitute Bill 5229. This bill requires health professions licesees to complete health equity training every 4 years. WMHCA will continue to maintain a voice in this process and attend the meetings and provide public comment.