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.”
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.
Workgroups and other meetings WMHCA is directly involved in
Crisis Response Improvement Strategy (CRIS)-----In 2021, the Washington State Legislature passed HB 1477, establishing the Crisis Response Improvement Strategy Committee (CRIS) and Steering Committee. These committees will develop recommendations to support implementation of the national 9-8-8 suicide prevention hotline and the statewide improvement of behavioral health crisis response and suicide prevention services. WMHCA representatives attend these meetings and provide clinician voice.
We attend and participate in the Behavioral Health Workforce Group. This workgroup is focused on the shortage behavioral health workers and the mental health crisis we are currently experiencing.
Where WMHCA has been-policy and legislation we have worked on in the past
The Bree Collaborative - We attended meetings and provided public comment where appropriate. We also wrote a letter outlying our recommendations to to workgroup. WMHCA continues to monitor the implications of the Volk decision on our profession.
Policy Updates and Changes-What were 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.