Out of My Mind
By James Blundo
MMHCA Executive Director
February 24, 2020
I feel compelled to respond to efforts to distort and minimize MMHCA's role in our wonderful law PA96 of 2019 which protects all counselors in Michigan.
I am going to use the same theme MMHCA used in passage of our bill.
We used facts to substantiate our positions not misleading language to take credit and minimize our hard work on your behalf. Instead of a point by point fight over incorrect details by others, I want you to make up your minds as to who saved the profession and who has your best interests at heart.
We are the only Counseling profession who protects you with a fulltime paid lobbying firm who specializes in mental health issues.
2019 was the most consequential years since our license was passed in 1988. MMHCA and LLPC/LPC's were facing the greatest challenge to our survival as a profession. MMHCA was able to introduce and pass a bill to protect LLPC/LPC's in the fall of 2018. It was to be sent to Governor Snyder on the last day of the lame duck legislative session. It was killed on technicalities. We were very disappointed but determined to succeed.
In 2019, our lobbyist firm Acuitas led by Andres Cascarilla was able to introduce our bill written and tweaked by the PPL Committee and Andrea. It was moved forward in spite of prior scheduling and political agendas in the legislature. Our Public Policy Committee met in Lansing and held several conference calls and emails to layout the strategic action plan.
In the summer of 2019, the Board of Counseling (BOC) was hit by an administrative decision by the Department Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). In spite of the BOC decision opposed to the LARA decision to change our Scope of Practice that would block us from diagnosis, psychotherapy, and other issues developed over thirty 30 years.
MMHCA decided take the lead in fighting this decision. Our bill had been written and negotiations were already in progress with LARA and several groups who wanted to make changes in our language and in opposition. We were able to satisfy most concerns except the Michigan Psychological Association. With them we were not willing to give up diagnosis
Our sponsor Rep. Aaron Miller helped our lobbyist hold meetings with associations and LARA over the summer and into the fall of 2019.
In August MMHCA received the changes to our Scope of Practice in writing by LARA. It was obvious that we needed to act fast and furious. With our lobbyist, and the MMHCA and PPL Committee went public with the crises. We alerted the media and all the counselors in Michigan we could reach on the dire level of threat.
The organic response was phenomenal. A very effective facebook page was created with the facts and a place for counselors to connect. A petition was signed by 54000 individuals in support of our legislation. We had media attention across the state.
We determined the bill had to be passed before LARA was able to implement the changes targeted for November 2019. We were given one date to raise opposition to the Scope of Practice changes. On October 4, 2019 2000 counselors came to Lansing to oppose the intended changes. An additional 7000 emails were sent to LARA in opposition to intended changes. LARA had never seen this level of clarity in response to recommended changes.
In case LARA was able to implement the rule changes, we consulted with five attorneys with knowledge of regulatory affairs and filing lawsuits to block LARA's implementation. We referred to it as Plan B. We were prepared for all contingencies.
With the help of our lobbing firm (Acuitas) we were able to Fastrack our legislation. With considerable hours of work to finalize negotiations over objections from other professions and measuring level of support of each member of the Health Policy Committees in the House and Senate, we moved forward with the hearings required to precede a vote of the full House and Senate.
We requested the counselors in every district of the House and Senate be requested to support our legislation. Your efforts were extremely successful! My Senate representative received 1700 emails in support.
Our feedback was from your efforts and was extremely effective.
Our lead lobbyist Andrea Cascarilla, polled the legislature's members and they were on board.
To the amazement and pleasure of the MMHCA-PPL Committee, the bill passed each committee by 100% favorable vote.
Both the House and Senate passed the bill with no objections. From introduction to the signing was 5 and half weeks. No legislation has passed unanimously in in this time frame in over 22 years.
The Governor Whitmer signed Public Act 96 of 2019 on October 29, 2019.
It went into effect January 27, 2020.
With hundreds of hours of hard work, numerous trips to Lansing, weekly conference calls and the support of counselors across the state, we have accomplished a miracle. We are now protected from most threats to our profession. We closely monitor the rules committee of the BOC in relation to LARA's actions. The MMHCA PPL Committee recently made recommendations to develop rules around tele-supervision.
As a matter of fact, MMHCA is now considered the go to experts on the delivery of mental health services in Michigan.
Legislatures and lobbyists are coming to us for input. We have and will be setting up meetings with legislatures with help of our lobbyists to help design language and support bills that involve mental health.
We are expecting all legislation we support to include LLPC/LPC's
This challenge was handled masterfully by MMHCA.
We relied on facts to support our efforts. Some associations relied on miss information and unsubstantiated and distorted facts to take credit for MMHCA's success.
No one can deny The Michigan Miracle created by MMHCA!
You can thank and support us by joining MMHCA, and liking us on facebook.
We have 1000 members. We have your back! Follow us on the MMHCA facebook site and on our website
to see our future actions on your behalf.
MMHCA Executive Director