Advocacy

The Iowa Mental Health Counselors Association follows and reports on new legislation and updates to current legislation affecting mental health counselors in Iowa. To learn more about the current issues facing the general assembly, visit the Iowa Legislature General Assembly.

You can read the last 12-18 months of legislative updated below, in order of most recent updates to oldest updates. For older archived legislative updates, they can be found among the general News Items.

Join us for our Annual Day the Hill from 2-4 PM on Wednesday, March 13th, 2019!

More information can be found here: https://imhca.net/newsletters/day-on-the-hill-march-13-2019/

 

Action Request on HF 666 – Licensure Review Bill; March 15, 2019

What does HF 666 do?

This bill requires the state government efficiency commission (comprised of legislators) to review at least one third of all professional licenses, certifications and registrations every two years.

The state government efficiency commission must make recommendations on each of these categories related to continuation of the requirement for licensure, education requirements for licensure and scope of practice.  The commission must consider health and safety implications and may request input from the licensure board and other interested parties.  The legislature, as a whole, would then vote upon these recommendations.

This is a repeat of an attempt several years ago to eliminate certain licensure requirements. That bill was ultimately defeated but it proposed to elminate licensure of mental health counselors.  The bill’s sponsor met with mental health counselors on our Day on the Hill and suggested that we have too many licensed occupations in the state and that some professions use this to exclude people from serving in those occupations.

The bill is eligible for debate on the House floor.

What can you do?

Contact your representative and express your opposition and concerns with this bill.    To find your representative and contact information, enter your home address in this link and you will be directed to your representative’s information:  https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislators/find.

Here are some suggested points to use in your communication with your representative:

  • Explain the why it is important that mental health counselors are licensed
  • Explain why the educational and training standards and board oversight are important.
  • Ask your legislator to oppose passage of HF 666.

Tips for contacting your legislator:

Your influence is with your elected representative.   However, if you have a personal relationship with a legislator who is not your representative, please contact them as well.

Email is the best method of contact and you should note in the subject line that you are a constituent. Legislators get a lot of emails and this helps them focus on those from their district.

A good email to legislators uses these three standards:

  • Be polite.
  • Be succinct but specific about your position.
  • Make the ask.

 

IMHCA First Funnel Report, March 7, 2019

Under the Golden Dome

The first legislative funnel has cleared the decks of many bills to allow the legislature to focus on those with enough support to move forward.  The next legislative funnel deadline is April 5.  By that date, a bill must have passed one chamber and a committee in the other chamber to remain alive.  As is usual practice, many bills were rushed through the process “to keep the conversation alive” and may need significant work prior to floor debate.

 

The children’s mental health bills, bills to make changes to the commitment process and medicaid oversight or changes will continue to be discussed and redrafted prior to floor debate. IMHCA will be at the table as those changes are discussed.  And IMHCA was successful in defeating an effort by occupational therapists to be included as mental health providers.   The bill was not considered by the full Senate Human Resources Committee.

First Funnel Survivors

HSB 180:  Licensure/Certification Review Process

This bill gives the state efficiency review commission the responsibility of reviewing all licensure, registration or certification occupational requirements and making recommendations about whether those should continue, any changes to educational requirements and any changes to scope of practice.  As currently drafted, the legislation would automatically sunset licences, registrations or certifications until the underlying licensure requirement is reinstated by the legislature.  The committee removed that language, improving the legislation.  IMHCA is currently registered opposed.  The bill was approved by the House Labor Committee.

HSB 206/SF 479: Children’s Mental Health Bill

These bills create the parameters for a children’s mental health system in conjunction with the regional adult mental health system.  It also establishes the core services that must be provided by the regions as well as who is eligible for coverage.  IMHCA is registered as undecided on both bills.  The bills were approved by their respective chambers Human Resources committees.

HF 419: Musical Therapists

This bill would create title protection, but not licensure, for musical therapists.  IMHCA is registered in support of the bill.  The bill was approved by the House State Government Committee and is eligible for debate on the House floor.

HF 423/SF 252:  Inmate Medicaid coverage

These bills address issues with continuation of medicaid coverage for prison inmates after they are released.  Under current law, their coverage ceases once they enter the prison system which results in a delay in getting Medicaid coverage upon their release.  The bills will “suspend” rather than terminate their coverage to ensure continuity upon their release.  IMHCA is registered in support of both bills.  These bills have been approved by committees in both chambers.

HF 504/SF 376: Mental Health Awareness in School

These bills require the required school curriculum for health education to include content on mental health awareness, coping skills and suicide prevention.  IMHCA is registered in support of both bills. Both bills were approved by their respective chambers Education committees.

HF 606:  Continuing Education Requirements

This bill would prohibit the boards of behaviroal science and social work from restricting the number of continuing education credits a licensee could receive through online courses. The bill specifies that the boards could set standards for eligible online courses.  IMHCA is registered as neutral on the bill.  The bill passed the House Human Resources Committee.

HF 619: Notification of Law Enforcement

This bill was amended in committee to make changes to the commitment statutes for substance abuse and mental illness.  The bill will likely see further changes before it reaches the House floor.  IMHCA is registered as undecided.  The bill was approved by the House Human Resources Committee.

SF 167:  Loan Repayment Program

This bill adds mental health providers as defined in 228.1 to the list of professions that are eligible to receive loan forgiveness in exchange for practicing for a minimum of five years in a rural area.  IMHCA is registered in support of the bill.  The bill passed the Senate Education Committee and is eligible for debate on the Senate floor.

SF 500:  Needle Exchange

This bill directs the Department of Public Health to develop a needle exchange program.  IMHCA is registered in support of the bill.  The bill was approved by the Senate Human Resources Committee.

Bills that Died

HF 106: prohibit conversion therapy

HF 210: hospital protocols for veterans with mental health issues

HF 617: timelines for resolving managed care contracts with the state

HF 618: uniform credentialing and prior auth procedures

SSB 1234: medicaid managed care oversight

SSB 1240: school based telehealth for behavioral health

SF 157: parity for reimbursement for temporary licensure

SF 443: occupational therapists as mental health providers

 

February 22, 2019 IMHCA Legislative Report

Under the Golden Dome

The legislature’s self-imposed deadline to move policy bills is in just two weeks.   By March 8, a policy bill must have passed a committee in one chamber to remain alive for consideration.  Legislators use this process to focus on those bills that have significant support.   The next two weeks will be busy with subcommittee and committee meetings as legislators rush to meet that deadline.

The long-anticipated children’s mental health bill from Governor Reynolds has yet to be introduced. This bill is expected to incorporate many of the recommendations of the Children’s System Board (created last year by executive order of the governor).

In addition, legislators have not yet released bills to address the recommendations of workgroup on chapter 225 and 229 commitments or the tertiary psychiatric care workgroup recommendations.   Given the tight timeline, these bills are likely to move quickly to meet the funnel deadline and receive more substantive consideration before reaching the floor for debate.

Bills of Interest

HSB 159:  Continuing Education Requirements

This bill would prohibit the boards of behaviroal science and social work from restricting the number of continuing education credits a licensee could receive through online courses. The bill specifies that the boards could set standards for eligible online courses.  IMHCA is registered as neutral on the bill.

HF 210:  Hospital Protocols for Veterans with Mental Health Issues

This bill requires the department of inspections and appeals to develop rules for protocols for hospitals to provide transitional care for up to 24 hours with veterans with mental health issues.  IMHCA is registered in support of this bill.

HF 419: Musical Therapists

This bill would create title protection, but not licensure, for musical therapists.  IMHCA is registered in support of the bill.  The bill was approved by the House State Government Committee and is eligible for debate on the House floor.

HF 423/SF 252:  Inmate Medicaid coverage

These bills address issues with continuation of medicaid coverage for prison inmates after they are released.  Under current law, their coverage ceases once they enter the prison system which results in a delay in getting Medicaid coverage upon their release.  The bills will “suspend” rather than terminate their coverage to ensure continuity upon their release.  IMHCA is registered in support of both bills.  The House Human Resources Committee has approved HF 423.

SF 125:  Needle Exchange

This bill directs the Department of Public Health to develop a needle exchange program.  IMHCA is registered in support of the bill.

SF 157:  Reimbursement Parity

This bill requires insurance companies to reimburse temporary licensure mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists at the same rate as fully licensed individuals receive.  IMHCA is registered in support of the bill.

SF 167:  Loan Repayment Program

This bill adds mental health providers as defined in 228.1 to the list of professions that are eligible to receive loan forgiveness in exchange for practicing for a minimum of five years in a rural area.  IMHCA is registered in support of the bill.  The bill passed the Senate Education Committee and is eligible for debate on the Senate floor.

SF 270: Mental Health Awareness in School

This bill requires the required school curriculum for health education to include content on mental health awareness, coping skills and suicide prevention.  IMHCA is registered in support of the bill.

 

January 17, 2019 IMHCA Legislative Report

Under the Golden Dome

The first week of the legislative session is largely ceremonial and organizational.  Legislators were sworn in and committees held their organizational meetings.   Governor Reynolds delivered her state of the state address (see below for items of interest).  After the inaugural ceremonies are concluded, expect legislators quickly turn their focus to their legislative priorities.

Mental Health to Be Legislative Focus

Below is a quick recap of legislation that we anticipate to be discussed during this legislation session

  1. School-based telehealth for behavorial health services. The proposed legislation enacts a permissive regulatory framework to guide local development of school-based telehealth systems, including:
  • Limited to Behavioral Services, Consistent with Standards of Care
  • Mental Health Providers Proving Telehealth Services Must Have an Iowa License
  1. Changes to Chapter 229 – Involuntary commitment statute.  Proposed language, modeled after the process used in Colorado, provides more authority to chief medical officer or designee to determine if hold or release is necessary without magistrate approval.
  2. Implementation of Recommendations of the Children’s System Board.These recommendations include:
  • age-appropriate, universal behavioral health screenings that determine whether a child needs behavioral health services1 shall be provided at periodic intervals to Iowa’s children and their families.
  • Estalbish set of behavioral health core services and supports domains developed

Focus on Mental Health in State of the State, Budget

Governor Reynolds higlighted mental health, particularly children’s mental health in her state of the state address.

  • Additional $11 million in fiscal years 2020 and 2021 to medicaid to help cover new services provided by the mental health regions
  • $4 million for new psychiatric residency programs at the University of Iowa for doctors who will practice in rural areas
  • $150,000 to train nurse practitioners and physician assistants in mental health
  • Legislation that creates a children’s mental health system that works in tandem with the adult mental health system
  • $1.2 million to eliminate the waiting list for home- and community-based children’s mental health services
  • $300,000 to train teachers to recognize signs of mental health issues

Final Legislative Summary May 11, 2018

YOUR ACTION IS NEEDED – PROTECT INSURANCE REIMBURSEMENT FOR TEMPORARY LICENSED MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELORS
Please see details at the bottom of this entry

Iowa Mental Health Counselors Association
Final Legislative Summary
May 11, 2018

Reflections on the 2018 Session:

Despite both chambers and the governor’s office being controlled by Republicans, the legislative session went into overtime. Differences over the depth of tax reform and how to shape the state’s budgert caused legislators to work through the month of April, finally adjourning on May 5.

Mental health was a big focus in this legislative session and numerous bills were enacted into law to expand services to address mental health concerns. And, IMHCA secured a significant victory in the enactment of legislation that creates different business opportunities for mental health counselors and other mental health professionals. Despite the simple nature of this bill, passing a bill is always harder than killing one!

HF 2300 – LLCs/PLCs: This bill allows licensed mental health counselors to form partnerships with each other or with licensed psychologists, marital and family therapists, or licensed independent social workers under the state’s limited liability statute as well as the professional corporation statute. The bill was signed into law on April 2 and becomes effective on July 1.

HF 2305 – telehealth: This bill requires insurance companies regulated by the state to treat health care services delivered via telehealth in the same manner as those services when provided by direct provider contact. This is not a payment parity bill but it would prohibit those insurance companies from refusing to establish a reimbursement for telehealth services if it also covers those services when delivered in person. The bill was signed into law on March 29 and becomes effective July 1.

HF 2456 – behavioral health: This bill is the behavioral health policy bill that incorporates the recommendations of the complex needs workgroup (legislatively appointed after the 2017 legislative session) as well as recommendations from the IHA-IMS workgroup on behavioral health. The bill was signed into law on March 29, 2018. The major provisions of the bill include:

  • Clarifies Licensure for Subacute Care Facilities
  • Regions Shall Ensure the Availability of Core Services, Contingent Upon Federal Funding Availability, No Later Than October 1, 2018
  • Regions May Partner to Make Core Services Available
  • Medicaid Must Cover Medically Necessary Core Services
    Core Services Include:
  • 22 Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) Teams
  • 6 Subacute Regional Access Centers (Established by December 31, 2019)
  • Intensive Residential Service Homes (IRSH) for up to 120 Patients Statewide
  • Modify Regions’ Civil Commitment Process:
  • Ensure Civil Commitment Prescreening Within Four Hours of Emergency Detention
  • Ensure the Coordination of Appropriate Levels of Care, Including Securing Inpatient Psychiatric Beds or Community-Based Resources and Services, When Needed
  • Ensure Ongoing Consultation with a Physician or other Mental Health Professional While Patients Remain in the ER
  • Clarifies Disclosure of Mental Health Information to Law Enforcement
  • Expedites Release of Patients in a Mental Health or Substance Abuse Involuntary Commitment if Recommended by the Examining Physician
  • Clarifies Transport Responsibilities for Patients Under a Mental Health Involuntary Commitment
  • DHS & IDPH Must Establish a Statewide Crisis Hotline
  • DHS & IDPH Must Convene Stakeholders to Review the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Involuntary Commitment Process and Make Recommendations for Improvement
  • DHS & IDPH Must Convene Stakeholders to Review the Role of Tertiary Care Psychiatric Hospitals in Delivering Mental Health Services and Issue Recommendations by November 30, 2018

SF 2113 – suicide prevention: This bill requires school districts to provide annual training to all employees under the purview of the Board of Educational Examiners on suicide prevention and postvention. This requirement applies to those employees who have regular contact with students in grades 6 – 12. The bill further requires school districts to provide annual training to all employees under the purview of the Board of Educational Examiners on how to identify adverse childhood experiences and strategies to mitigate the impact those experiences may have on a student. This requirement applies to those employees who have regular contact with students in grades K-12. In addition, school boards are required to adopt protocols for suicide prevention and postvention and strategies to mitigate the impacts of adverse childhood experiences on a student’s learning. The bill was signed into law on March 29 and becomes effective on July 1.

SF 2418 – FY 2019 Health and Human Services Budget: This bill establishes funding for health and human services programs and includes some policy language. The most significant policy language establishes a requirement that mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists with a temporary licensure and psychologists with a conditional license be reimbursed for their services if provided under the direction of a qualified supervisor. This language was agreed upon by Wellmark whose action to clarify that there was not a reimbursement process for those with temporary licenses spurred this action. Please see below for a call to action for IMHCA members.

In addition, the bill includes language that provider groups sought to improve the delivery of Medicaid managed care. These include:

  • Standards for timely claims processing
  • Standardized medicaid provider enrollment forms
  • Review of the effectiveness of prior authorization standards
  • Independent audit of small claims to determine the accuracy of MCO determinations and payments
  • Directs DHS to convene a workgroup to review the health home program and issue recommendations for the future of that medicaid initiative

YOUR ACTION IS NEEDED – PROTECT INSURANCE REIMBURSEMENT FOR TEMPORARY LICENSED MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELORS

SF 2418, the budget bill for health and human services programs, contains some important language regarding insurance reimbursement. IMHCA worked closely with legislators to craft this language to ensure that those mental health professionals can be reimbursed for the services they provide during their supervisory period prior to full licensure.

This language is subject to potential line item veto as it is policy language in a budget bill. While we anticipate that this language will be signed into law, please take a few minutes to email Governor Kim Reynolds to ask her to retain this provision of the bill.

Click this link to contact the governor’s office: https://governor.iowa.gov/contact and then click “Register an Opinion”. This will provide the official format for you to submit comments to Governor Reynolds.

In crafting your submission, please consider the following:

  1. Ask that she retain Division XXVIII – Coverage of Behavioral Health Services Provided by Certain Providers.
  2. Talk about the importance of this training and being reimbursed for the services you provide in delivering mental health services around the state.
  3. Share any personal experiences you have had as a temporary licensee or in supervising an individual with a temporary license.

 

Legislative Alert from AMHCA; May 11, 2018

House of Representatives Considering Opioid Emergency Response Act, Including Provisions Adding Licensed Mental Health Counselors to Medicare

The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means is in the midst of considering legislation to include in their opioid package. A senior member of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, Congressman Vern Buchanan (R-FL) introduced the Opioid Emergency Response Act (HR 5531) last month, which includes provisions that would add licensed mental health counselors as eligible Medicare providers.

The Committee on Ways and Means plans to markup opioid legislation the week of May 14th, and AMHCA needs your help! See below, and call your Member of Congress today to URGE WAYS AND MEANS TO INCLUDE HR 5531 OR HR 3032 IN THEIR MARKUP LIST, BECAUSE #SeniorsNeedMHCounselors!

Alabama Terri Sewell (D) (202) 225-2665
Arizona David Schweikert (R) (202) 225-2190
 Florida Carlos Curbelo (R) (202) 225-2778
 Florida Vern Buchanan (R)

*Note: AS the sponsor of this legislation, thank him for his
efforts supporting Mental Health Counselors in HR 5531!

(202) 225-5015
 Georgia John Lewis (D) (202) 225-3801
 Illinois Peter Roskam (R) (202) 225-4561
 Illinois Darin LaHood (R) (202) 225-6201
 Illinois Danny Davis (D) (202) 225-5006
 Indiana Jackie Walorski (R) (202) 225-3915
 Kansas  Lynn Jenkins (R)  (202) 225-6601
 Massachusetts  Richard Neal (D)  (202) 225-5601
 Michigan  Sander Levin (D)  (202) 225-4961
 Michigan  Mike Bishop (R)  (202) 225-4872
 Minnesota  Erik Paulsen (R)  (202) 225-2871
 Missouri  Jason Smith (R)  (202) 225-4404
 Nebraska  Adrian Smith (R)  (202) 225-6435
 New York  Joseph Crowley (D)  (202) 225-3965
 New York  Brian Higgins (D)  (202) 225-3306
 New York  Tom Reed (R)  (202) 225-3161
 North Carolina  George Holding (R)  (202) 225-3032
 Ohio  Jim Renacci (R)  (202) 225-3876
 Ohio  Pat Tiberi (R)  (202) 225-5355
 Oregon  Earl Blumenauer (D)  (202) 225-4811
 Pennsylvania  Mike Kelly (R)  (202) 225-5406
 Pennsylvania  Pat Meehan (R)  (202) 225-2011
 South Carolina  Tom Rice (R)  (202) 225-9895
 South Dakota  Kristi Noem (R)  (202) 225-280
 Tennessee  Diane Black (R)  (202) 225-4231
 Texas  Kenny Marchant (R)  (202) 225-6605
 Texas  Kevin Brady (R)  (202) 225-4901
 Texas  Lloyd Doggett (D)  (202) 225-4865
 Texas  Sam Johnson (R)  (202) 225-4201

NEW LAW in Iowa Allowing Counselors to form LLC or Professional Corporations

April, 2, 2018: The governor signed into law HF 2300, effective July 1, 2018. This bill allows psychologists, mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists and licensed independent social workers to form limited liability corporations or professional corporations.

 

HOUSE PASSES OMNIBUS SPENDING BILL FOR FY 2017-18

Joel E. Miller (AMHCA)

The House of Representatives passed the “omni” or “omnibus” in federal budget language, which contains many appropriation bills – a huge legislative measure of 2300 pages which contains a $1.3 trillion spending bill to fund the federal government until September 30th (the remainder of the 2017-18 fiscal year).

The Omnibus bill now goes to the Senate where it faces an uncertain fate.  If the Senate does not take action by Friday, March 23rd, the federal government will shut down.  If the bill passes, it will give us six months without Continuing Resolutions (CRs) that have kept the government running the first six months of the fiscal year.

Our Medicare provider recognition bill language in the House budget legislation – H.R. 3032 – was not included in the final House bill and unlikely to appear in any Senate bill for fiscal year 2017-18.  However, we will have multiple opportunities in the Proposed Federal Budget deliberations for FY 2018-19 that the House and Senate will take up soon after they pass the 2017-18 spending package.   There will be various mental health and opioid-related  bills under consideration over the next few months where we hope to attach our Medicare CMHC recognition bills. We are already advocating behind the scenes to hopefully make this happen.

In the House budget bill we did achieve a success where language was included in the HHS/Labor Bill section of the Omnibus stating:

“Mental Health Providers.-The (budget) agreement is aware that Medicare beneficiaries

have limited access to substance use disorder and mental health services,

particularly in rural and underserved areas. The (budget) agreement notes concern about the

shortage of eligible mental health providers for the Medicare population and

supports efforts to explore the expansion of the mental and behavioral health workforce.”

(Division H, pg. 50 of the Labor/HHS Conference Committee report)

We hope this guidance in the HHS bill section will set the stage for serious consideration and passage of our Medicare bills in any final budget legislation in fiscal year 2018-19.

We will provide additional information when, and if, the Senate approves a final bill that aligns with the House Omnibus bill, and then must be signed by President Trump before the spending bill becomes law.

Best,

Joel

Joel E. Miller

Executive Director and CEO

American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA)

675 N. Washington St., Suite 470

Alexandria, VA 22314

T – 703-548-6002

F – 703-548-4775

www.amhca.org

Iowa Legislature ADVOCACY TOOLKIT

This excellent resource was prepared for our 2018 Day on the Hill, but it will help you with your advocacy efforts all through the year! 2018 IMHCA Advocacy Toolkit.

Mental Health Day on the Hill: SAVE THE DATE!

The Iowa Mental Health Counselors Association (IMHCA) invites you to join us on Monday, March 5th, 2018 at 2:00PM (legislative dining room, ground level) for our annual “Mental Health Day on the Hill” advocacy event, held at the State Capitol Building in downtown Des Moines, Iowa.

Mental Health is extremely important and should be made a priority. Whether you are merely interested in how policy impacts Iowa’s mental health delivery system, a student pursuing a degree in the mental health field or you are a provider looking to share your story and advocate for your profession, this is your chance! Simply RSVP to government@imhca.net by March 2. Please include your name and email to receive more information closer to this event.

If you would like more information about IMHCA, please subscribe to our e-mail distribution list at https://imhca.net/ or simply follow us on Facebook and/or LinkedIn.

The Iowa Mental Health Counselors Association would like to thank you in advance for your participation in this event and for your continued support.

We look forward to seeing you on March 5th at 2:00PM on the Hill!

February 16 Legislative Update – First Funnel Deadline

The first legislative deadline, known as funnel week, has passed. This deadline is used by legislators to clear those policy bills which have sufficient support for further consideration. Under the rule, a bill must have passed a committee in one chamber to remain alive. This rule does not apply to bills before the Appropriations or Ways and Means Committee. And, it’s important to remember that no bill is truly dead until the legislative session ends. 
Funnel week is a frenetic time at the Capitol as legislators rush to schedule subcommittees and full committee meetings often go for hours.  
Below is a list of active bills being followed by IMHCA:
HF 2300/SF 2173:  This bill would allow a licensed mental health counselors to form partnerships with each other or with licensed psychologists or marital and family therapists under the state’s limited liability statute as well as the professional corporation statute.   Currently, such partnerships are prohibited.  IHCA is registered in support of both bills.  The bills have passed the Judiciary Committees in both chambers.
HF 2305:  This bill would require insurance companies regulated by the state to treat health care services delivered via telehealth in the same manner as those services when provided by direct provider contact.  This is not a payment parity bill but it would prohibit those insurance companies from refusing to establish a reimbursement for telehealth services.  The House Commerce Committee approved the  bill, making it eligible for floor debate.  IMHCA is registered in support of the bill.
HF 2279:  This bill would allow school districts to access financial sharing incentives from the state if they choose to share the costs of hiring a social worker.  The bill, introduced by Representative Pat Grassley (R), is part of a larger effort to make it easier for districts to address their students’ mental health issues.  IMHCA is registered as neutral on the bill.  The bill passed both the House Education and the House Appropriations Committees, making it eligible for floor debate.
HF 2176:  This bill requires school districts to provide annual training to all employees under the purview of the Board of Educational Examiners on suicide prevention and postvention.  This requirement applies to those employees who have regular contact with students in grades 6 – 12.    The bill further requires  school districts to provide annual training to all employees under the purview of the Board of Educational Examiners on trauma informed care.  This requirement applies to those employees who have regular contact with students in grades K-12.   In addition, school boards are required to adopt protocols for suicide prevention and postvention and trauma informed care.  The bill was approved by a subcommittee and will be considered by the full House Education Committee next week.  IMHCA is registered as neutral on the bill.
HF 2327:  This bill is the major behavioral health bill for the legislative session.  It is intended to implement the recommendations of the complex needs workgroup as well as other changes agreed upon by the various organizations engaged in the Iowa Hospital Association’s behavioral health workgroup.  The bill is similar but not identical to SF 2252.  The bill does the following:
  • Clarifies Licensure for Subacute Care Facilities
  • Regions Shall Ensure the Availability of Core Services, Contingent Upon Federal Funding Availability, No Later Than October 1, 2018
  • Regions May Partner to Make Core Services Available
  • Medicaid Must Cover Medically Necessary Core Services
  • Core Services Include:
    • 22 Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) Teams
    • 6 Subacute Regional Access Centers (Established by December 31, 2019)
    • Intensive Residential Service Homes (IRSH) for up to 120 Patients Statewide
  • Modify Regions’ Civil Commitment Process:
    • Ensure Civil Commitment Prescreening Within Four Hours of Emergency Detention
    • Ensure the Coordination of Appropriate Levels of Care, Including Securing Inpatient Psychiatric Beds or Community-Based Resources and Services, When Needed
    • Ensure Ongoing Consultation with a Physician or other Mental Health Professional While Patients Remain in the ER
  • Clarifies Disclosure of Mental Health Information to Law Enforcement
  • Expedites Release of Patients in a Mental Health or Substance Abuse Involuntary Commitment if Recommended by the Examining Physician
  • Clarifies Transport Responsibilities for Patients Under a Mental Health Involuntary Commitment
  • DHS & IDPH Must Establish a Statewide Crisis Hotline
  • DHS & IDPH Must Convene Stakeholders to Review the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Involuntary Commitment Process and Make Recommendations for Improvement
  • DHS & IDPH Must Convene Stakeholders to Review the Role of Tertiary Care Psychiatric Hospitals in Delivering Mental Health Services and Issue Recommendations by November 30, 2018
IMHCA is registered in support of the bill which passed the House Human Resources Committee.
SF 2120:  This bill requires the DHS to develop uniform billing, credentialing and prior authorization forms for the companies delivering Medicaid.  IMHCA is registered in support of the bill.  The bill was approved by the Senate Human Resources Committee.
SF 2083:  This bill sets the in-network Medicaid reimbursement rate at 100% of the fee-for-service cost and at 95% for out of network providers.  IMHCA is registered in support of the bill.  The bill was approved by the Senate Human Resources Committee.
SF 2252:  This bill is the major behavioral health bill for the legislative session.  It is intended to implement the recommendations of the complex needs workgroup as well as other changes agreed upon by the various organizations engaged in the Iowa Hospital Association’s behavioral health workgroup.  The bill is similar but not identical to HF 2327.  The bill does the following:
  • Clarifies Licensure for Subacute Care Facilities
  • Modifies Regions’ Reserve Fund Standards to Establish 30% of Annual Expenditure Limitation
  • Regions Shall Ensure the Availability of Core Services, Contingent Upon Federal Funding Availability, No Later Than July 1, 2021
  • Regions May Partner to Make Core Services Available
  • Regions’ Annual Reports Must Outline Plan to Make Core Services Available
  • Regions Must Provide Quarterly Reports on Their Progress Toward Making Core Services Available
  • Medicaid Must Cover Medically Necessary Core Services
  • Core Services Include:
    • 22 Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) Teams
    • 6 Subacute Regional Access Centers
    • Intensive Residential Service Homes (IRSH) for up to 120 Patients Statewide
    • A Single Statewide Crisis Hotline
    • Warmline Regional Services
  • Allows DHS to Implement Changes with Emergency Rules
IMHCA is registered in support of the bill which was approved by the Senate Human Resources Committee.

New Iowa Legislative Session Schedule

Monday, January 8 marked the start of the 87th General Assembly and the 2018 legislative session in Iowa.  With Medicaid privatization and the current state of our mental health system listed among the top priorities for legislators, it looks to be a busy session for the Association’s Government Relations committee!

Make sure your voice is heard!  Email government@imhca.net today and tell us what you would like legislators to know heading into the session, and don’t forget to sign up for email alerts and regular updates throughout the year by visiting https://imhca.net or by following us on Facebook and LinkedIn!

Here is a schedule of the legislative session, 2018 legislative session

Thank you for your continued support, and we look forward to serving your legislative interests on the hill in 2018!

Respectfully,

The IMHCA Government Relations Committee

Medicare Reimbursement Advocacy November 15, 2017

Medicare Reimbursement for LMHC’s and MFT’s

We are closer than ever to getting this law passed!

We Need Your Help!

On Wednesday, November 15, 2017, the entire mental health counselor community is uniting through social media outreach, combined with calls, to U.S. Senate and House offices, to build support for and pass S. 1879 / H.R. 3032 into law. We need your help to pressure your Representatives to support the Seniors Mental Health Access Improvement Act!

ABOUT THE SENIORS MENTAL HEALTH ACCESS IMPROVEMENT ACT

If passed by the U.S. Congress, the Seniors Mental Health Access Improvement Act (S. 1879/HR 3032) would include licensed mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists as eligible recipients of Medicare funding.

More information here.

Legislative Update – April 25, 2017

Reflections on the 2017 Session

The 2017 legislative session concluded early Saturday morning after a marathon all night session.   At the end of the day, the issues of medical cannabis oil and water quality threatened to hold up the conclusion of the legislative session. Legislators successfully reached agreement on the first but could not find common ground on the two water quality proposals.   This session marked the first time in twenty years that all three branches of government were controlled by Republicans.   Republicans pushed through major policy initiatives over the strong objections of Democrats, creating a somewhat acrimonious environment.   In addition, Republicans faced a worsening budget situation and were forced to make reductions in the current year’s budget.   The budget picture for FY 18 was no better and many programs saw reductions to stay within the statutory spending requirements.

Perhaps the biggest success for IMHCA and the other targeted professions is the defeat of legislation to eliminate licensure.   These proposals emanated from the governor’s office. The defeat of this legislation is a shining example of the power of grassroots.   As we transition to a new governor, it will be incumbent upon us to determine if she carries the same opinion that Governor Branstad held.   One thing is clear – legislators do not share his desire to eliminate licensure for marriage and family therapists, mental health counselors and social workers.

FY 18 Health and Human Services Budget

This budget, like all others, was not immune to reductions to adapt to the lowered revenue estimate.   Some key provisions impact mental health services:

  • Eliminate the program to train psychiatric physicians’ assistants at the Cherokee mental health institute ($8,000)
  • Eliminate the University of Iowa hospital primary care model for mental health treatment ($78,309)
  • Suspend the medical residency program targeted at psychiatry ($2 million)
  • Reduce funding to the autism/ABA program ($1.05 million)

Bills that Survived

HF 215: This bill requires state-regulated insurance plans to provide coverage for ABA treatment for autism consistent with the requirements already imposed on the state employee’s plan.   IMHCA is registered in support of this bill. Governor Branstad signed the bill into law on March 30.

HF 593: This bill gives mental health providers the authority to perform examinations and to involuntarily commit someone with a substance abuse problem.   The authority is limited to the scope of licensure and authorization of each individual practice area. IMHCA is registered in support of the bill. Governor Branstad signed the bill into law on April 7.

SF 504: These bills address inequities in the county mental health property tax levy by evening out the levies for counties within one region. The bill also requires counties to spend down their ending fund balances and continues the study of the complex needs population. IMHCA is registered as undecided on the bill because it does not address the underlying need to provide an increase in the mental health levy rate for all counties. The bill passed both chambers and will be sent to the governor for his signature.

Bills that Failed

SF 192: ABA licensure

SF 254: provider ask about gun ownership

SF 255: provider ask about anything other than health and insurance

SF 286: restore reimbursement cut to community mental health centers and others

SF 453: duty to warn law enforcement

SF 477: Medicaid claim payment

SSB 1071: health care worker attraction and retention workgroup

SSB 1160: telehealth insurance coverage

SSB 1168: telehealth insurance coverage

HF 106: establish a mental health workforce center

HF 170/HF 178: placement of elderly people with aggressive or psychiatric behaviors

HF 180/SF 169: evidence based depression screening for elderly people

HF 317: telehealth reimbursement for mental health services

HF 319: mental health providers can do substance abuse commitments

HF 342: mental health levy rate increase

HF 343: mental health levy rate increase

HF 348: telehealth insurance coverage

HF 352: school suicide, trauma informed care training

HF 361: children’s mental health advisory & disability services council

HF 362/SF 262/SF 325: alternative transportation options for mental health patients

HF 380/SSB 1212: music therapist licensure

HF 404: telehealth reimbursement

HSB 138: certificate of need/hospitals, licensure bill

HSB 174: certificate of need/licensure study

 

Legislative Update – March 31, 2017

Under the Golden Dome

The Legislature concluded its second funnel week, a time when all policy bills must have passed one chamber and a committee in the opposite chamber to remain alive.   This does not apply to budget and tax bills. And, as is always possible in the legislative world, procedures exist for bills or bill language to be resurrected. Nothing is truly dead until the legislature adjourns for the year.

The next serious work for the legislature will be developing a budget to accommodate the reduced revenue available for the current fiscal year (FY 17) and the upcoming fiscal year (FY 18).   The legislature will transfer funds from the cash reserve fund to balance the budget for FY 17. However, the statute requires this fund to be “replenished” in the next fiscal year.   Governor Branstad has proposed doing this over a two-year period to reduce the pressure on an already dismal budget situation. As required by law, he submitted his revised budget proposal for FY 18 to reflect the lower revenue estimates announced two weeks ago. Legislative leaders are faced with a difficult task of finding reductions and have yet to release their own revised budget targets.

Bills that Survived – 2nd Funnel

HF 215: This bill requires state-regulated insurance plans to provide coverage for ABA treatment for autism consistent with the requirements already imposed on the state employee’s plan.   IMHCA is registered in support of this bill. Governor Branstad signed the bill into law on March 30.

HF 593: This bill gives mental health providers the authority to perform examinations and to involuntarily commit someone with a substance abuse problem.   The authority is limited to the scope of licensure and authorization of each individual practice area. IMHCA is registered in support of the bill which has been sent to the governor for his signature.

Bills that Failed

SF 453: duty to warn law enforcement

SF 477: Medicaid claim payment

SSB 1071: health care worker attraction and retention workgroup

Legislative Update – March 3, 2017

Under the Golden Dome

The Legislature concluded its first funnel week, a time when all policy bills must have passed a committee in one chamber to remain alive. One of the most controversial bills, HSB 138 died a quick death after marriage and family therapists, mental health counselors and social workers, among others, raised serious objections to the elimination of their licensure.

HSB 174 was quickly introduced to place a one-year moratorium on new licensure categories and establishing a licensure review work group. This bill also failed to move through the process. However, legislators amended HF 229, originally a bill about electrician licensure, by striking the underlying language and inserting most of the language from HSB 174. However, HF 229 did not pass the House State Government Committee and the issue is dead for now. Keep in mind that reduction of licensure and oversight boards appears to be a priority for this governor. Until the legislature adjourns, nothing is officially dead.

IMHCA Day on the Hill-March 13

Are you attending the legislative day for mental health counselors on March 13? If not, please consider attending. This is a perfect opportunity for you to talk with legislators about your profession, the importance of a strong oversight and licensure program and how you serve mental health needs of Iowans. The day begins at 2:00 p.m. in the Legislative Dining Room at the Capitol with a briefing on the mechanics of talking to your legislator and the issues of the day. More information is available at https://imhca.net/upcoming-events/.

Bills that Survived

SF 75: This bill gives mental health providers the authority to notify law enforcement to protect the health and safety of a patient or a clearly identified victim. It also provides immunity protection for mental health professionals who do not provide this notice. IMHCA worked with the subcommittee to draft an amendment to clarify the situations in which such notification could occur and to provide immunity. IMHCA is registered as neutral on the bill. The Senate Human Resources Committee approved the bill.

SF 342: This bill allows a 1 ½ % penalty to apply to all clean claims submitted to Medicaid for reimbursement that are past 90 days. Clean claims is defined as “all information required for processing the claim is included”. The bill was also amended to include language from SF 343 that allows up to one year to file Medicaid claims. IMHCA is registered in support of the bill. The Senate Human Resources Committee approved the bill.

SF 400/HF 215: These bills require state-regulated insurance plans to provide coverage for ABA treatment for autism consistent with the requirements already imposed on the state employee’s plan. IMHCA is registered in support of both bills. The Human Resources Committees in each chamber approved these bills.

SSB 1071: This bill directs the Department of Public Health to convene a workgroup and make recommendations on health care worker attraction and retention. IMHCA is registered in support of the bill. The Senate Human Resources Committee approved the bill.

Bills that Failed

SF 85: art therapist licensure

SF 192: ABA licensure

SF 254: provider ask about gun ownership

SF 255: provider ask about anything other than health and insurance

SF 286: restore reimbursement cut to community mental health centers and others

SSB 1160: telehealth insurance coverage

SSB 1168: telehealth insurance coverage

HF 319: mental health providers can do substance abuse commitments

HF 342: mental health levy rate increase

HF 343: mental health levy rate increase

HF 348: telehealth insurance coverage

HF 352: school suicide, trauma informed care training

HSB 138: certificate of need/hospitals, licensure bill

HSB 174: certificate of need/licensure study

 

UPDATE ON HSB 138-Dead! – Feb. 28, 2017

HSB 138 is officially dead! Thanks to all of you who emailed, called and attended the subcommittee.  Today, HSB 174 was introduced and includes a ban on any new licensure programs and establishes a licensure board programmatic review committee. It does not impact licensure for marriage and family therapists, mental health counselors or social workers. It does establish a committee to review and make recommendations for all professions that are required to have licensure. This is an opportunity for mental health providers to be involved in that process, and IMHCA will ensure its members are represented at that table! Know that your voices will continue to be heard!

 

UPDATE ON HSB 138; Feb. 24, 2017

There has been a flurry of activity related to the proposal to eliminate licensure for social workers, mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists. This move calls into question insurance and Medicaid reimbursement issues that could reduce access to mental health services, puts the professions at risk of having no oversight or restrictions on who can practice and is a shortsighted effort to reduce the size of government. The main reason being used for the somewhat eclectic compilation of boards that would be eliminated is that these boards are not financially self-sustaining. Thus, it wasn’t about the reasons for the licensure but about the cost.At this point, our understanding is that HSB 138 is not going to move as written. The emails and phone calls by those impacted have had an impact. However, the bill is scheduled for a subcommittee meeting on Monday at 2:00 p.m. It is our understanding, again, that the bill will not move forward in its current form. Should you wish to attend and either listen or speak, you are certainly welcome to do that. Our lobbyist, Emily Piper, is in close contact with key legislators about this legislation and will also be communicating our opposition.

If you have specific questions about what is happening on the bill, please refer those to government@imhca.net.Your voice is being heard — thank you for standing up for our profession!
Donald Gilbert MS, PhD, LMHC, BCPC
IMHCA President
225 NW School St, Ankeny, IA 50023
515-964-5003
515-225-4006
fx 515-225-4016

NOTE: Please do not contact our lobbyist, Emily Piper about this bill at this point. She has been swamped and is working very hard on our behalf. Please contact you representatives, and send questions or comments about HSB138 to government@imhca.net.

One of our members offered the following list of emails if you would like to email the representatives on the relevant committee: (These were not confirmed by IMHCA, we are just passing them along from a member)

Ken.Rizer@legis.iowa.gov,
kevin.koester@legis.iowa.gov,
mary.mascher@legis.iowa.gov,
rob.bacon@legis.iowa.gov,
chip.baltimore@legis.iowa.gov,
Michael.Bergan@legis.iowa.gov,
dennis.cohoon@legis.iowa.gov,
peter.cownie@legis.iowa.gov,
lee.hein@legis.iowa.gov,
jake.highfill@legis.iowa.gov,
bruce.hunter@legis.iowa.gov,
bobby.kaufmann@legis.iowa.gov,
vicki.lensing@legis.iowa.gov,
Tom.Moore@legis.iowa.gov,
Amy.Nielsen@legis.iowa.gov,
jo.oldson@legis.iowa.gov,
dawn.pettengill@legis.iowa.gov,
Mike.Sexton@legis.iowa.gov,
sharon.steckman@legis.iowa.gov,
todd.taylor@legis.iowa.gov,
ralph.watts@legis.iowa.gov,
cindy.winckler@legis.iowa.gov,
Louie.zumbach@legis.iowa.gov

ACTION ALERT! Feb. 23, 2017

Attention Providers!

Your license to practice is currently under attack!

The Iowa Mental Health Counselors Association (IMHCA) has issued a call to action in opposition of HSB 138, a House Study Bill proposed by Governor Branstad that would take away a protection for Iowans as well as put Iowa last in the nation by removing licensure for the profession and eliminating the Board of Behavioral Sciences and the Board of Social Work.

Below are several talking points for you to refer back on as you join IMHCA in reaching out to lawmakers and expressing your concerns for HSB 138.

  • Mental Health Counselors are licensed, not registered, in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia.  This provides us with the right to practice.  One of the many challenges that professionals would face under this bill is the ability to move from this state to another without a license, and still be allowed to practice.  Removing licensure would undoubtedly prevent the providers impacted by this bill from getting licensed in other states.
  • Insurance companies and employers have requirements that mental health professionals are licensed.  Tricare and the VA require Mental Health Counselors to be licensed at the highest level in their state.  Getting rid of licensure will reduce the number of practitioners eligible to serve our veterans and other Iowans.
  • Iowa already suffers from a shortage of mental health professionals.  It is imperative that we continue to ensure access to qualified mental health professionals, including Licensed Mental Health Counselors, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, and Licensed Master’s and Independent Social Workers.
  • Regulatory boards, such as the Board of Behavioral Science and Board of Social Work, have the primary goal of ensuring protection of the public through setting and enforcing rules related to education, ongoing training, and upholding ethical standards.  Numerous complaints are made annually regarding concerns from vulnerable Iowans about potential ethical violations ranging from professionals breaking trust by betraying confidentiality, taking advantage of someone financially, lying about claims, to having sexual relationships with clients.  Licensure boards provide accountability for the profession as well as protection by ensuring those who commit violations are not able to practice or get additional training to demonstrate improvement.

IMHCA is urging you to contact Governor Branstad, Lt. Governor Reynolds, House leaders and your local legislators and ask them to carefully consider the ramifications of this study bill.  Demand that they continue to keep Mental Health Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Social Workers licensed under their respective boards.

Go to:  https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislators/find if you are unsure who is serving your legislative interests on the hill. Contact information may be found on each legislator’s office site. To contact the Governor’s office, please use the following information:

1007 East Grand Ave.
Des Moines, Iowa 50319

Phone: 515-281-5211

For more information on how you can get involved in IMHCA’s legislative efforts, click on ‘Events’, or send an email to government@imhca.net and let us know you would like to help!

Respectfully,

Kacey M. Peterson, MS, LMHC

 

Feb. 18, 2017; Day on the Hill Advocacy Event

Join us at the capital on Monday, March 13th, 2017, starting at 2 PM! See additional details on our event page: https://imhca.net/events/day-on-the-hill/

 

Legislative Update – February 3, 2017

Under the Golden Dome

We are four weeks into the legislative session that has largely been defined by divisive issues, lack of civility and general inability to come together for the good of Iowa.   It is only destined to get worse as legislators settle school funding, make changes to collective bargaining and debate educational vouchers.

The pace of work on other, less controversial, legislation, has been slow.   Committees are routinely cancelled and the pace of bill introduction lags behind prior years.   Legislators did resolve the necessary reductions in the current year’s budget to accommodate for a reduction in projected revenue growth.  And, the Republican leadership in the two chambers reached agreement on school funding.  This allows legislative leaders to move forward to put the FY 18 budget together.   Revenues are also projected to be tight for FY 18 with approximately $178 in new revenue available after accounting for the built-in increases in the budget.

Bills Of Interest 

Complete text of bills can be accessed at the following link: https://www.legis.iowa.gov

SF 75:  This bill requires a physician to notify law enforcement of a potential dangerous situation with a patient with a mental health condition.  IMHCA is registered as neutral on the bill and has raised concerns about what this is intended to accomplish and the potential to violate patient privacy.  The bill was referred to the Senate Human Resources Committee.

SF 85:  This bill establishes a licensure procedure for clinical arts therapists and places them under the purview of the board of behavioral science.   IMHCA is registered as neutral on the bill.   The bill was referred to the Senate Human Resources Committee.

SSB 1043/HSB 41:  These bills expand the state employee insurance coverage for applied behavioral analysis for autism treatment.  IMHCA is registered in support of both bills.  The House Commerce Committee approved HSB 41.  SSB 1043 was referred to the Senate Commerce Committee.

 

IMHCA Government Relations Committee Update; March 2016

See the picture from our “Day on the Hill” and read this update in a nice format by clicking the link to the PDF at the bottom of this article!

Summary of Public Policy and Mental Health Awareness Efforts

March was a busy month for the Government Relations Team! On Monday, March 7th 2016, the Iowa Mental Health Counselors Association held its 8th annual “Day on the Hill” advocacy event at the Capitol in Des Moines. With increasing interest and concern about the current state of Iowa’s mental health delivery system, the event has steadily grown in popularity since its inception during the 2008 Regular Session. This year we welcomed the highest number of attendees to date, consisting of mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, and over a dozen students from Drake University’s Mental Health Counseling and Rehabilitation Programs. Numbering over twenty, participants gathered for a short briefing by IMHCA and IAMFT state lobbyist, Emily Piper, to review the afternoon agenda and hear the latest legislative update before heading upstairs to meet individually with Senators and Representatives from both sides of the aisle.

Focusing on members of the Senate and House Human Resources Committees, Majority and Minority Leaders, and a small number of legislators from various participant districts, our emphasis this year was placed on educating session leaders from both chambers by summarizing key legislative efforts, communicating individual and collective experiences related to the privatization of Medicaid services in Iowa, and showing appreciation for supported efforts and/or movement on IMHCA monitored legislation.

As is sometimes the case (these things are often difficult to predict), many of our meeting requests were met with disappointment as attempts to successfully navigate around caucuses in both chambers proved difficult. In spite of the unforeseen barriers and unusually quiet Senate and House floors, attendees were able to speak at length with House Representatives David Heaton (R), Beth Wessel-Kroeschell (D), Zach Nunn (R), and John Forbes (D) along with Senate Republican Leader Bill Dix. Each was receptive and willing to listen openly to the group’s concerns, and although there were a few spirited disagreements about the handling of Iowa’s Medicaid privatization efforts, there seemed to be bi-partisan agreement that a certain level of DHS and IME oversight would be necessary as the state forges ahead with a looming April 1st implementation date.

It was refreshing to see folks come together once again to rally for quality mental health services, higher industry-wide standards, and accountability by our leaders as we face an ever-changing mental health delivery system in Iowa. A special thank you to Emily Piper for her continued efforts on our behalf, fellow IMHCA board members who took time out of their day to join in our efforts, our colleagues at the Iowa Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, the instructors at Drake University for relaying to graduate students the importance of becoming active in local public policy and advocacy efforts, and the providers who were willing to come to the capitol and share their stories in an effort to help make our 2016 Day on the Hill a success! Finally, to the IMHCA members and conference goers whose contributions make our lobbying efforts possible, we could not do this year after year without you.

The Government Relations Committee looks forward to getting your feedback at the IMHCA conference in April! We also encourage you to check out the mental health observance reminders coming up for the month of April!

Respectfully,
Kacey M. Peterson, MS, LMHC
Government Relations Committee Chair
government@imhca.net
Mental Health Awareness Calendar Reminders
March Re-cap:
American National Nutrition Month;
Employee Spirit Month; Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month;
National Sleep Awareness Week® (Mar. 6-13); Brain Awareness Week (Mar 14-20)
April Observances
National Autism Awareness Month; Alcohol Awareness Month;
National Stress Awareness Month; Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) Month;
National Minority Mental Health Month; National Counseling Awareness Month;
World Health Day (Apr. 7)
Sign up now for the 2016 IMHCA Conference! (April 11th and 12th)

IMHCA Committee March Update

 

Legislative news – 02/03/2016

Managed Care Organizations

Quick Update From Our Legislative Lobbyist

Wednesday, Feb. 3, we made some progress in working with IME on issues related to timely reimbursement and to credentialing. We are told that as of today, everyone should be up to date on reimbursements and that the “bugs” in the credentialing process are fixed.

Also, we have been told that for issues with the IME management of behavioral health to directly contact the individuals listed below:

For reimbursement issues: Sean Bagniewski: sbagnie@dhs.state.ia.us

For credentialing issues: Paige Thorson: pthorso@dhs.state.ia.us

Legislative news – 01/26/2016

Under the Golden Dome

The second session of the two-year legislative cycle is largely focused on quickly resolving school funding for the next fiscal year. The resolution of this issue is critical to determining the other parts of the state’s budget. Committees are beginning their work to move legislation forward in anticipation of the first legislative funnel deadline, February 19. By this time, a bill must have passed a committee in one chamber to remain alive. This deadline does not apply to budget or tax bills.

The Governor’s budget for FY 2017 recommends $1.3 billion budget for Medicaid, a $23.4 million increase over FY 2016’s estimated costs. This includes a supplemental of approximately $40 million for FY 2016 to fully cover all costs. The delay in the implementation of Medicaid managed care is reducing the amount of “savings” that were projected for the current fiscal year. The legislature based the FY 2016 budget on a $51 million savings from the move to managed care. However, that number is continually being reduced as implementation is delayed.

Medicaid Managed Care Update

At this point, the program is scheduled to be implemented beginning March 1. Wellcare has had its contract cancelled by the state, leaving three remaining companies. While the delay has not negatively impacted reimbursements for physical health claims, it is causing sizable problems for behavioral health claims. Legislators appear to be more focused on the “bigger picture” and lost in that is the impact that the lack of reimbursements have on those who serve patients.

We need to shift the focus on this so that legislators help us “push” DHS and IME to resolve this problem quickly. Please consider sending an email to your House and Senate members. Make these key points in your email:

1. Identify yourself as a constituent and mental health provider in the subject line of the email.

2. Outline the problems and delays you have experienced in receiving reimbursement from IME.

3. Outline what impact this could have on your ability to continue serving clients on Medicaid and on your business as a whole.

4. Ask that your legislator raise this issue with IME and push for a quicker response time with respect to reimbursement.

To find your legislators by using your address, use this link: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislators/find

Bills of Interest

HSB 502: This bill would require coverage for telehealth services (distinct from coverage of telemedicine) for employees on the state’s health insurance. Telehealth may include situations in which there is a cost incurred for the service but does not involve direct care of a patient by a medical provider. IMHCA is registered in support of this bill which is in the House Human Resources Committee.

SF 2032: This bill creates a process to allow mental health providers to more easily share mental health records with other providers. The goal is to more easily allow access by physical health providers of these records when treating patients. HIPPA protections are maintained. IMHCA is registered in support of this bill which is in the Senate Human Resources Committee.