The Houston Chronicle recently published an opinion piece about the TMA lawsuit, from TMA President Don Read, which can be read here. Clinical Fellow Sarah Woods countered with the following response published here.
Therapy and mental health
Regarding "Court case highlights gaps in state's mental health care system" (HoustonChronicle.com, Oct. 11) and "Money is at the root of court case," the Texas Supreme Court heard arguments for a lawsuit against marriage and family therapists (MFTs). Who sued therapists? The Texas Medical Association.
TMA President Don Read suggests that Texas marriage and family therapists are taking this case to court. Please be clear- there is nothing family therapists in Texas want less than to be involved in this lawsuit.
Read neglects to mention in his essay that TMA's lawsuit is to remove MFT's ability to diagnose mental health conditions (which they've done for decades), given a semantics concern between two difference codes describing MFTs' scope of practice.
TMA has said MFTs are not trained to diagnose. They are-- with required coursework and thousands of supervised hours of practice before licensure. They're also endorsed by the American Psychiatric Association for diagnosing. Marriage and Family Therapy is one of five core mental health professions recognized by the US Department of Health and Human Services- all of which diagnose, as diagnosis does not require a medical doctor.
Read suggests MFTs suddenly wanted to diagnose for "money." While he's wrong about that, he is right that health insurance companies require a diagnostic code to cover mental health services. MFTs whose care is covered by Medicaid, CHIP, the Veterans Affairs and private or state agencies, will lose the ability to be reimbursed, rendering them unemployable. At best, Read's assertion that a ruling in TMA's favor won't change access to mental health care is short-sighted.