Legislative news – 03/29/2013
The House unanimously passed an amended version of a bill to create a state licensure program for addiction counselors. The amendments made changes that were designed to address concerns raised by IMHCA and further clarify scope of practice issues for the various levels of licensure that are created. The bill must make it through the Senate Human Resources Committee next week. I anticipate that it will clear this legislative hurdle as a subcommittee is scheduled for Monday.
The Senate passed the Medicaid expansion bill on a party line vote this week. The one major change made to the legislation is the “opt out” clause that would give the state the right to pull out of expansion if the federal government failed to honor its financial commitment to the state. Republicans continue to oppose Medicaid expansion in the House and are waiting for the Governor’s proposal, The Healthy Iowa Plan, to provide an alternative for consideration. The Governor’s plan has some significant shortfalls: it covers fewer people at a higher cost, does not provide mental health coverage and would use some of the counties’ mental health property tax levy to fund the plan.
The bill to create a social worker loan repayment/forgiveness program is at a standstill and is likely dead for this legislative session. To remain alive, it must pass the Senate next week AND pass a committee in the House. Traditionally, neither Chamber does much floor debate the week prior to the second funnel deadline. Looking forward to next year, I think it would be in our best interest (along with the MFTs) to reach out to the social workers and see about drafting something that encompasses the three professions and then put a plan together to get a) authorizing legislation and b) funding for the program. The social workers have tried year after year to get this through and have been unsuccessful. Maybe now they would be willing to work with us in advance instead of letting us on the bus during the legislative game and hoping that we give the bill impetus to move forward.
A bill that would require all teachers and administrators to undergo suicide prevention training prior to license renewal is dead. While the bill passed the Senate, the House has declined to take up the legislation citing two concerns. First, House Education Committee chairman Ron Jorgensen is concerned about the burden (financial) that this may place on those seeking licensure with the Board of Educational Examiners. Second, he believes that all school employees should have some training in identifying the potential signs of suicide in students. Rather than do the legislation this year, Rep. Jorgensen has asked the Department of Education and Department of Public Health to work on a voluntary basis to identify potential training programs and make those resources available to school districts to incorporate into their existing staff training. If that approach does not work, he would be open to legislation in 2014.
Emily Piper | firstname.lastname@example.org Piper Consulting Services P.O. Box 12011 | Des Moines, Iowa 50312-2011 Phone: 515-202-7772 | Fax: 866-869-2842