Indiana’s 2019 legislative session was busy and productive, and a major milestone was achieved for LMFTs and other masters-level mental health providers in the state. With coordinated efforts by Indiana LMFTs, LCSWs, LMHCs, and LCACs, House Bill 1175 was passed in both houses and became law on July 1, 2019. House Bill 1175 allows for LMFTs and other masters-level mental health providers to supervise a plan of mental health or substance abuse treatment for clients covered by Medicaid without requiring the providers to work under an HSPP. The previous standard created a significant barrier to care for many potential clients, and now, clients covered by Medicaid have a much wider array of providers to choose from. This also frees up time for HSPPs to provide additional direct service to clients instead of spending valuable time signing off on treatment plans created by already competent providers.
In addition to House Bill 1175, the Indiana AAMFT Affiliate with help from their lobbyist, Mark Scherer, was able to support the passage of House Bill 1542 to increase frequency of the Indiana mental health licensing board to improve response times in processing applications. House Bill 1199 was also passed to make sure Indiana Law for MFT education matches current COAMFTE standards. By making the path to becoming an Indiana LMFT smoother, we hope to increase our number of providers and thus the number of Indiana residents able to seek care.
In 2019, a few potentially harmful bills were also stopped from advancing in the Indiana legislature. These included Senate Bill 268, Senate Bill 612, and House Bill 1131. The first proposed considering a combination mental health license for all masters-level clinicians in Indiana. The Indiana Affiliate was very concerned with potentially losing the valuable distinctions that distinguish LMFTs, and thankfully, this bill died without a committee hearing. The latter two bills proposed adding Behavioral Analyst licensing to the Indiana mental health licensing board. As Behavioral Analysts are not legally permitted to practice counseling and/or therapy, this would have suddenly added a non-counseling voice to licensure decisions for mental health professionals. The Indiana Affiliate, with support from our lobbyist, successfully convinced legislators not to advance this bill.
None of this would have been possible without the tireless efforts of our volunteer legislative committee, the support of the Indiana Affiliate board, and the AAMFT's Practice Protection Fund. Special acknowledgment, however, is deserved by Mark Scherer, our lobbyist of over 20 years. Mark always works diligently on our behalf as an expert guide on the legislative process and often can alert us to news and rumors on bills that are never picked up in the media or posted online. We can then address these issues immediately and stay current on any changes in real time.
Moving forward, the Indiana Association's Legislative Committee anticipates working with Indiana's Office of Medicaid Policy and Planning on the implementation of House Bill 1175, as well as planning for next year's legislative session. AAMFT’s Practice Protection Fund helped offset the costs of our legislative session and will continue to help fund our efforts through the remainder of this year as we navigate the Medicaid regulatory process.
Please consider donating to the Practice Protection Fund so that advocacy efforts like those in Indiana can continue. The Practice Protection Fund provides funding for states advancing the MFT license and defending the MFT license against threats. Any amount that you can contribute helps the profession!
Kurt Gregory- IAMFT Board Legislative Chair