CT Counseling Association Conference- April 5, 2013

Kenneth L. Przybysz LLC
The 2013 legislature kicked off in early January in the aftermath of a horrendous tragedy. The tragedy in Newtown has consumed the legislative session. This week legislators approved a bipartisan package of reforms highlighted by expansive new gun control.

Included in the bill are changes to laws concerning mental health. Specifically, the changes require insurers to make faster decisions about whether certain urgent mental health and substance-abuse services will be covered, and making it easier for consumers to see what criteria carriers use in determining if care is covered.

Other provisions include offering a “mental health first aid” program to help educators recognize signs of mental illness, doubling the number of Assertive Community Treatment teams providing intensive support to people with serious persistent mental illness living in the community, adding slots for case management for people involved in probate courts, establishing a program that provides psychiatric consultation to help pediatricians address mental health issues in their patients, and setting up a task force to study the state’s mental health system and how it serves young adults.

The legislature is also faced with another challenging budget cycle. The Governor proposed a budget in early February that must close a projected $1 billion gap for fiscal year 2014- starting on July 1, 2013. The cuts hit hospitals especially hard but many social service and healthcare providers also face either flat funding or a decrease. The proposed budget includes significant cost savings from the Affordable Care Act and moving people above 133% of the federal poverty line over to the Health Insurance Exchange.

In the next month the legislature will offer their own budget proposal. We expect there to be significant changes made to the Governor’s proposal. Over the next month the legislature will put together its own budget before voting on it in the committee process. Once they pass the budget out of committee negotiations will pursue between the Governor’s Office and legislative leaders. The legislature will have until June 5 to act or require a special session to pass the budget before June 30.

The public hearing process is wrapping up as committees have already held public hearings on hundreds of bills. During the public hearing process, we have monitored bills to be sure that no bills were passed that had a negative impact on the licensed professional counseling profession. We will continue to do so as amendments may be offered on the floor of the House and Senate during the later stages of the session. Some bills of particular interest that have come up include:

  • SB 366- AN ACT REQUIRING LICENSED SOCIAL WORKERS, COUNSELORS AND THERAPISTS TO COMPLETE CONTINUING EDUCATION COURSE WORK IN CULTURAL COMPETENCY, has passed the Public Health Committee. It would require social workers, professional counselors, alcohol
  • and drug counselors and marital and family therapists to take at least one hour of continuing education courses on the topic of cultural competency.
  • SB 821- AN ACT CONCERNING RESPONSIBILITIES OF MANDATED REPORTERS OF CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT, has passed the Children’s Committee. It would strengthen the statutory protections for mandated reporters, including professional counselors, and other employees reporting suspected instances of child abuse or neglect.
  • SB 1065- AN ACT CONCERNING LICENSED ALCOHOL AND DRUG COUNSELORS, has passed the Public Health Committee. It would remedy a change made last year that removed the requirement for licensure of completing three hundred sixty hours of education, at least two hundred forty hours of which relates to the knowledge and skill base associated with the practice of alcohol and drug counseling
  • SB 1136- AN ACT CONCERNING MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES, has passed the Public Health Committee. It would require the Commissioner of Mental Health and Addiction Services to develop a plan concerning the provision of mental health services to young adults and to require the Commissioners of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Children and Families and Social Services to establish a regional behavioral health consultation system for primary care providers who serve children. Something similar was included in the major gun control bill.
  • HB 6684- AN ACT CONCERNING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF AN INTAKE, REFERRAL AND INTERVENTION SYSTEM RELATING TO THE PROVISION AND DELIVERY OF MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES, awaits a vote in the Public Health Committee. It would require the Commissioner of Mental Health and Addiction Services to establish an intake, referral and intervention system relating to the provision and delivery of mental health services.

As always if you have specific questions about legislation please let us know.

Thank You,

Ken Przybysz & Brian Sullivan
Kenneth L. Przybysz LLC