In an effort to keep our membership updated on what the Government Relations committee is dong on your behalf, here is a brief synopsis of recent activity. At present the activities of Government Relations are dedicated to 3 specific areas - the 2012 Legislative session, the proposed rules issued by the LPC Board for Act 320 and the ongoing developments with the Louisiana Behavioral Health Partnership. These issues are each closely related but will require specific attention within their respective arenas.
1) 2012 Legislative Session
LCA continues to remain committed to returning to the legislature during the upcoming session in order to seek clarification and address many concerns of the membership regarding ACT 320. Government Relations, Leadership and the LCA Lobbyist are meeting with Senators in order to secure an author and co-authors for the proposed legislative changes we are seeking this session. We are finding there is clear support for professional counselors and we are thankful for this support as well as the grassroots efforts established during previous sessions. As the deadlines for submission draw near, all effort will be made to secure the appropriate support needed in order to succeed within the current political climate. In order to avoid any confusion, we ask that membership make general contact with legislators at this time and let them know they will be back in touch with the specifics of our bill at a later time. When an author is secured and language established, the activation of grassroots efforts and membership contact with local legislators will be needed and very important for us to be successful. Please be ready to respond to the call for action.
LCA Government Relations has been in continued contact with ACA regarding this issue by regular participation in conference call updates and direct contact with Scott Barstow, ACA Public Policy Coordinator. Scott is aware of the situation and is actively advising leadership with recommendations specific to the projected legislation. Scott has graciously consented to assist membership with any questions or concerns as things develop. His contact information is:
2) Proposed Rules
Government Relations and Leadership have met with LPC Board Members to clearly voice the expressed concerns of membership statewide regarding the proposed rules in relation to ACT 320. At present, LPCs across the state are still operating under the emergency rules initially established. The proposed rules will require several steps toward promulgation. LCA will be providing a flowchart of the various steps to assist in educating our membership regarding this process. As of the most recent LPC Board meeting held February 17, a Notice of Intent had not yet been filed. The Board must comply with all legal and regulatory obligations regarding the process of rules promulgation. However, it is possible that a new law could be established prior to the conclusion of the proposed rule process. Again, we would like to reiterate to membership that LPCs are presently operating under the emergency rules not the proposed language recently distributed for feedback. The emergency rules can be found on the LPC Board website: www.lpcboard.org
3) Louisiana Behavioral Health Partnership/DHH/Magellan
As the March 1 transition date for Magellan to begin as SMO nears, this issue continues to draw intense scrutiny from all mental health care professionals statewide. Government Relations and Leadership have worked closely with DHH/OBH and Magellan throughout this process. Active involvement has led to multiple addendums to provider manuals and we will continue to fight for the rights of professional counselors within this system. We are working in collaboration with NASW on a number of concerns expressed by providers statewide. It is important to note that although, we have seen several issues addressed and changed prior to the March 1 transition date, the process of change will continue after March 1 as the system evolves and issues are identified.
Most recently concerns regarding addiction services weredebated with DHH Administrative Representatives and theOBH Medical Director. Clarification has been made that in no way will LPCs be required to be supervised by the ADRA. This issue is in response to concerns regarding competency of addiction services provided to consumers. Any licensed individual practitioners who can document providing addiction services or supervision of those providing addiction services, within their scope of practice, prior to March 1, 2012 are exempt from additional testing requirements to demonstrate addictions competency. Therefore, if individuals can document that they have provided addiction services at any time prior to March 1, 2012, they can meet this requirement and be grandfathered. According to DHH, this is an issue of reimbursement and is not intended to be a restriction of trade. It is also importantto note that this only applies to services provided and reimbursed within the LBHP.