Welcome to the Florida Mental Health Counselors Association

Florida Mental Health Counselors Association   |   2101 Vista Parkway, Suite 124 West Palm Beach, FL 33411   |   561-228-6129

Ellsworth “Tony” Williams, President and CEO of Veterans Counseling Veterans and FMHCA Military Service Committee Chair, traveled to Tallahassee Florida to visit State Senator Dana Young's office to voice his concerns and support Senate Bill 326. He was accompanied by members of the Veterans Counseling Veterans team, Felicia and Carol Rasor-Cordero. He pointed out the language of the bill was missing veterans and families suicide postvention counseling services. VCV was also concerned that tying the families eligibility for services to the veterans characterization of discharge would harm the family that needs a service the most.

Overall, Veterans Counseling Veterans supports the passage of Senate Bill 326 and House Bill 179. This bill will provide a coordinated referrals system for veterans and Families who acquired Behavioral Health assistance. While at the capital, Tony participated in the State Veterans Council meeting. The council discusses bills that affect the military residents of Florida

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Legislative Alert! 
Senator Kathleen Passidomo, Naples, FL, introduces bill to set up specialized care for infants born addicted to opioids. We will be monitoring this important piece of legislation and keep all updated. Most of all thank you, Senator Passidomo!

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On March 16, 2017, Chief Justice Labarga directed the Committee on ADR Rules and Policy (Committee) to review the Parenting Coordinator Discipline Operating Procedures and develop new rules of discipline to be added to Part II, Discipline, of the Rules for Qualified and Court-Appointed Parenting Coordinators. The Committee invites all interested persons to comment on the proposed disciplinary rules for Qualified and Court-Appointed Parenting Coordinators.

Please note that parenting coordinators are qualified and disqualified pursuant to subsections 61.125(4) and (5), Florida Statutes, and In re: Parenting Coordination Application Form and Training Standards, Fla. Admin. Order No. AOSC14-64 (Nov. 14, 2014). The administrative order specifically places the qualification and disqualification of parenting coordinators with the chief judge of each judicial circuit and not with the Parenting Coordination Discipline and Review Board (PCDRB) or the Dispute Resolution Center. Part II of the proposed rules includes a number of references to disqualification by the chief judge and it is important to understand their role in the disciplinary process. [See ADR Resource Handbook]

Please address your comments to:

The Honorable Rodney Smith, Chair,

Committee on ADR Rules and Policy

Supreme Court of Florida

Dispute Resolution Center

e-mail: DRCmail@flcourts.org

Did you know? Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain is a warning sign of suicide. Learn other signs and #BeThe1To provide support: http://bit.ly/2tnpGhN

What is the number of opioid deaths of Medicare recipients in Florida? Pass this along to your congressman as you pitch for support of medicare legislation in Congress.

Click Here For More Information 

We will be visiting Representative Burgess in January. Much Needed, and we can count on Tony Williams to ensure that the word gets out on this.

USF seeks $2 million for new and alternative PTSD treatments for veterans

Click Here To Read The Article 

“Veterans Counseling Veterans hosted a two-day workshop call Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST). ASIST is an Army mandated suicide prevention training for anyone assigned as a suicide prevention coordinator in an Army unit. The participants included local veteran organizations that provide services to Veterans and their families including American Legion Department chaplain, a member of James A Haley VA Suicide Prevention team, members of VCV's veteran and Families Outreach team for suicide survivors (VFOSSS) and members of Florida4Warrriors. Ellsworth "Tony" Williams, president and CEO of VCV, [and FMHCA’s esteemed Military Service Committee chair,] believes veteran suicide is a national problem with a local solution. That solution is the community. If you want to do more than just offering your condolences to the family who lost the veteran to suicide, then I recommend you either find or host your own Suicide Prevention Workshop.” – Veterans Counseling Veterans

Tony has noticed a distressing amount of veterans’ suicides as of late that have gone unnoticed in the media: 
Rest in Peace, twins Thomas E. Cavanaugh III and David Cavanaugh.
Rest in Peace, Sgt. Michael Borland

There are currently no services for veterans and families who lose a veteran to suicide. That is why Veterans Counseling Veterans started a new program for veterans and families who lost a veteran to suicide called Veterans and families Outreach support for suicide survivors (VFOSSS). This program will provide suicide prevention training, suicide Postvention services and Outreach to suicide survivors.

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These are the bills that we will hopefully be amending:

HB 1047 http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Documents/loaddoc.aspx?FileName=_h1047__.docx&DocumentType=Bill&BillNumber=1047&Session=2018 start reading on line 1736 of the bill. 

SB 1486 http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=62307&

I’ve been working with Jennifer Wenhold, Board Attorney. 

The bills have not yet been heard in committee, so we haven’t been able to amend them yet. The draft amendment is in your inbox. 

The Senate Health Policy Committee meets at 9 to discuss limiting opioid prescriptions to only 3 days (7 days in some cases). I’ll be in the Capitol starting at 8:15 but feel free to call me before then.


Our own Tony Williams has been busy gallivanting around Florida and meeting with regions and local chapters while informing about his work as chair of FMHCA Military Service Committee.

"Florida Mental Health Counselors Association (FMHCA)’s Military Service Committee Chair Tony Williams continued his Military Service Committee (MSC) awareness and recruiting campaign by visiting Northeast Mental Health Counselors Association's (NEMHCA) board in Jacksonville, Fl. One of MSC's goals is to increase awareness about the committee to the FMHCA members and recruit members for the committee . Tony was pleasantly surprised to learn one of their board members Fonda Mosal was a retired army officer. This will be Tony's last stop for the 2017. He has visited three FMHCA Chapters since being appointed as a military service committee chair in June 2017. "

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FMHCA's 2018 conference partner The Green Cross Academy of Traumatology is issuing a CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS

"Ready To Send Team Number 4 in just a few weeks- will YOU join us? We have been able to do some fantastic work in San Juan and the surrounding areas thus far on our deployments, and there is a lot left to do! After our 3rd Team Deploys out January 19th, & we are preparing to send one more! 
This next team will deploy either beginning January 29th, or February 4th, depending on whether we can work around (the FMHCA) Annual Conference February 1st-3rd

Whether you are Spanish Speaking or not, we are looking for volunteers to deploy with us! Spanish Fluency would be a great help, but is not required for all members of our team.

To let us know of your availability:
Email gcatofficemanager@gmail.com with the following information:
1. Availability for a Deployment from February 4th-14th
2. Green Cross Certification Level
3. Familiarity/ Fluency in Spanish (if at all)
4. Departing Airport
5. Current Phone Number

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-Travel, Food, Shelter, and All Deployment Related Expenses are covered by Green Cross and its Donors
-We are pleased to be working with our Puerto Rico Site, led by Dr. Carlos Velázquez García, as we serve various communities and institutions in Compassion Fatigue and Trauma
-We look especially for Members to join who have taken Disaster Trauma, Compassion Fatigue Educator(/Compassion Stress Management), and Compassion Fatigue Therapist to join us. These courses can be taken online or at one of our training sites- check out www.greencross.org/training-ce/

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As Humana and other providers decreased coverage in Florida years ago, the “Blues” assumed more and more of a presence here. With its minion in behavioral services management, BCBS dominates the local landscape at a level comparable to TRICARE. On a statewide level, the Blues’ saturation is similar. The current threat from them is to slash rates beginning October 1, in order for providers to remain in their network. Without divulging too much, typical CPT codes are slashed by 37%. The current info is that we sign by July 2nd - an arbitrary deadline, as the changes do not occur until October 1, 2017. Their position varies around the state but basically states that nothing is negotiable. I am providing a list of questions to ask BC/BS and/or New Directions personnel, as well as what contact information we have so far. The task before us is to communicate with them at a high, intense, professional level because so much of this change is being ramrodded. Call, write, & e-mail the BCBS/NDBH personnel listed below and add more to our contact list; contact local media contact your state representatives (below); contact your state professional organizations. And, in case any of them are concerned about the welfare of BCBS, a not for profit, mutual insurance company, assuage their concerns as the CEO’s compensation rose by 17.2% in 2015, to $1MM salary + #3MM bonus + $4.6MM other compensation for a 2015 total = $8,639,381. We await the 2016 figures with breathless anticipation. 

  • BCBS begins on September 30, 2017
  • Is BCBS asking for 35% discount for Med/Surg fees?
  • Is BCBS asking 35% from LMHC’s and 30% from psychologists?
  • To whom do we channel our issues with this Draconian cut in services?
  • What’s the basis for this arbitrary discrimination on 90837 CPT? 
  • What logic dictates the same pay for 90834 (45 min.) & 90837 (60 min.)?
  • How is it that BCBS is asking network providers to accept the same rate as HMO providers?
  • If a provider leaves the “closed” panel, is that provider able to return?
  • What are current Non-Network BSBC Rates for CPT codes? 
  • What are differences in co-pay and payment for patients and providers?
  • What are differences in EFT? Are checks mailed to patients? 
  • Will EFT continue with non-network providers?
  • Cost of care will shift to consumer; more self-pay will occur; less coverage, more profit for companies at cost to subscribers/patients?
  • Has BCBS passed this by the Florida Insurance Commissioner?

This year we coordinated with Oasis Compassion Agency's "Touch a Heart" Gift Drive for underprivileged children in Palm Beach County. oasiscompassion.org

We owe a BIG thank you to A Modern Touch Hair Salon! They were a HUGE partner in completing our wishlist. Val and her team are truly a generous group of individuals. You can visit A Modern Touch Hair Salon at:
1165 Royal Palm Beach Blvd, West Palm Beach, FL https://moderntouchsalon.com/

Thank you also Mike, Agnes, Maria, Laura, Diana, and Dr. Silvernail for your contributions

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This is HUGE! Governor Scott releases budget for 2018. Opioid Crisis and other MH concerns included in request for funding. We will addressing these items in Tallahassee, January 9 and 10.

Congressman John Rutherford notifies FMHCA President-Elect Erica Whitfield of co-sponsorship of HR 3032. The FMHCA delegation met with Rep. Rutherford's office last July during AMHCA conference. This is the fruit of grass roots work! Well done, Erica!

Contacts re: BCBS

Cindy Wall took charge of ground-coordination in arranging for our hotel at a discounted rate and dinner meeting for Monday evening for last minute talking points. In all respects, the Wyndham Hotel went well-beyond expectations as did the El Patron Restaurant where we conducted a fun-filled last minute orientation toward the our presence in the capitol the next day.
Kay Nowak took on the job of overseeing the design, content, and printing of our talking points flyer which was immeasurably helpful for this event and will be for future events sponsored by the GRC.
A color-coded meeting schedule was developed so that attendees could team up so as to enhance the presence at one another’s appointments. 
During our “debriefing” meeting on Friday, January 13, 2017, the consensus was that for the inaugural event, this was an unmitigated success, running much smoother than expected, well-coordinated, and foundational from which future endeavors will spring.
To build for future events the following were brought to the table:
A dinner/reception with invited legislators during the event.
Soliciting sponsors to offset the costs.
Offer CEUs to attendees vis a vis preparation workshop attendance.
A leadership or committee meeting during the trip.
Setting up FMHCA informational Table in Rotunda
Ongoing marketing of 3-4 legislative targets, i.e. policy, common sense gun regulations, psychological evaluations for law enforcement personnel including first responders.
Have policies in mind to address during meetings.
It was agreed that timing future advocacy days around key committee weeks would benefit the impact of our presence. We would coordinate our messages based upon committee agendas and carry these into our meetings with committee chairs and members.
To assist with this, it was strongly recommended that the GRC campaign to get all FMHCA members proficient in the use of Florida Pop Vox. 
Other, important input included that an individual be designated to get photos and comments posted to the Social Media as they occur. It was further added that perhaps having a Government Relations Committee sub-page attached to the FMHCA Facebook page. Louise will follow up with this.
For future events, we are looking at a “Barnstorming” event during which our US Senators and Congressmen would be visited during the times they were at home in their district offices.
It is envisioned that this kind of event could also be planned for all of our state and local legislators, all with the intent of linking FMHCA to Mental Health and Drug Abuse Legislation.
Finally, ongoing recruitment of individuals to commit to maintaining contact with state and national legislators is considered to be of utmost importance as we enlarge on our role within the government.
Respectfully Submitted, Louise Sutherland-Hoyt, LMHC, CCMHC, NCC, MAC
President Elect/Chairman Government Relations Committee

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Scott declares state of emergency to combat opioid epidemic!
By Christine Sexton
05/03/2017 02:50 PM EDT
TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott ordered the state Surgeon General and Health Secretary Celeste Philip to declare the ongoing opioid epidemic a public health emergency, so that he can tap into more than $27 million in federal funding for the prevention, treatment and recovery support services, his office announced Wednesday.
Scott also directed Philip to issue a standing order for Naloxone to ensure that responders have immediate access to this lifesaving drug to respond to opioid overdoses.
Meanwhile, the Legislature has been at odds over funding for Vivitrol, also known as naltrexone, a drug used to treat opioid addiction. While the latest Senate budget offer includes $2.5 million for naltrexone, the House cuts funding for Naltrexone treatment by $5.5 million.
There were more than 3,900 opioid deaths in Florida in 2015.
According to Scott’s executive order, Florida will be able to access $27.1 million in federal dollars for two years, but that the state must tap into the money before July 1.
His press office claims that, without the order, “it would have taken months for the state to distribute these funds to local communities. “
Scott directed the state department of Children and Families, state department of Health and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to visit Palm Beach, Manatee, Duval and Orange Counties to identify additional strategies to fight the rising opioid usage cases in the state. 
The opioid crisis has drawn national attention. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is part of a national commission created last month by President Donald Trump and led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to combat the country's opioid problem.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, opioids — prescription and illicit — are the main driver of drug overdose deaths. Opioids were involved in 33,091 deaths in 2015, and opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999.
To view online:
http://www.politico.com/ states/florida/whiteboard/ 2017/05/03/ scott-declares-state-of-eme rgency-to-combat-opioid-ep idemic-8611972

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Our very own Erica Whitfield and Louise Sutherland-Hoyt join the MH Press Conference at State Capitol. They also attended countless meetings with Legislators to salvage Mental Health Funding

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By Corinne Mixon, Lobbyist, Rutledge-Ecenia/Mixon & Associates

Nearly 30 Florida lawmakers received in-depth, in-person information about the Licensed Mental Health Counselor profession in the month of January. These advocacy efforts were launched over a two-day event in Florida’s capital city at the Florida Mental Health Counselors Association’s inaugural Legislative Advocacy Day event.

The event required complex planning by the FMHCA government affairs committee and staff, but these efforts were far from squandered. The amount of legislators with whom FMHCA’s members met on the 10th of January may have eclipsed the number of legislators with whom FMHCA’s members have met over the past year.

The inaugural Legislative Advocacy Day was a tremendous success.

In the days since these meetings took place, our lobbying office has received communication from several legislators touting the professionalism and knowledge of the LMHCs and students that attended our advocacy day. This lasting impression will help FMHCA pass or block bills and amendments in the future. Additionally, the FMHCA members who attended the event will be significantly more likely to set meetings with their Senators and Representatives back in their district offices based on their positive experiences in Tallahassee.

As we look to the future, we hope to grow the event significantly by securing sponsorships, pinpointing the date of the advocacy day far in advance and heavily advertising the event.

The Florida Mental Health Counselors Association hopes you’ll consider getting involved in the Government Affairs Committee and attending a future legislative advocacy day event.

FMHCA’s Platform on Education and Licensure.
For some time now, the 491 Board has been asking of our lobbyist what our position is regarding the standards for licensure should be moving forward. They are specifically asking
about the educational standards, with a focus on the possibility that CACREP will be the educational standard. This issue came up in our last Government Relations Committee meeting. Having done some research and participated in several discussions with members of the 491 board, past Presidents and Board members, I have drawn together some thoughts on this matter based on several converging dynamics regarding the future of this organization, Licensed Mental Health Counselors in the State of Florida and the nation at large. While nothing is set in
stone, and further discussion are still to come, I offered to draw together some ideas for us to consider. There are still some concerns regarding CACREP and how it has arisen and positioned itself in the field at this time. However, it appears the it is likely that CACREP will become the standard for education. These certainly do bear some discussion and consideration. And we need to step forward and be speak to be represented. Plus, we must do this sooner, rather than later, or there are others who will step forward and speak for us, without our input or consent.
This is already happening. Our lobbyist, Corrinne Mixon has a favorite and famous saint: “Either we are AT the table, or we are ON the table!” First, there is currently a movement afoot, nationally, to move toward licensure portability. This year, the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) and the American Association of State Counseling Boards (AASCB) have joined forces, and presented this as an idea whose time has come. Interestingly, FMHCA has been discussing instituting a movement to set this process in motion as long ago as 2016. AMHCA finally joined in with NBCC and AASCB to endorse and promote this idea. I believe that it should be noted that FMHCA has been one of the most prominent State Chapters/Organizations in the US regarding moving the
field forward. If licensure portability is to occur, several things would need to change in states and nationally. First, all states would need to unify regarding establishing one set of standards as a uniform requirement for licensure. Secondly, we would need to have a uniform title in all states. Currently there are over 20 titles in the US for what we do. Our title would need to inform the
public clearly and thoroughly, but parsimoniously of what we do, and what sets us apart. Thirdly, we have been called the profession the feeds on itself. We need to fix that. And all 50
states would ned to agree on a standard set of educational standards for the training that we must have to sit for licensure. And, lastly, all 50 states would need to agree on one test the we would have to pass in order to become licensed.
For example, Florida and Georgia are currently the two most prominent state organizations in the US. In Georgia, w are cal Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC). In Florida, we are called Licensed Mental Health Counselors.
Last year in 2016 or 2017, the American Counseling Association (ACA) — without consulting FMHCA — sent a letter to the 491 Board starting that we should change our title to Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC). I spoke with several other part presidents, including our Wonderfull Executive Director, the prominent and active Board members (new and old)
about this and we all agreed the we do not approve of this. Consequently, while I was still President, Corinne Mixon and I went to a 491 board meeting and argued that w did not want this
to happen, and the we felt it misrepresented our professional to the public. Our logic was that NBCC has developed an exam the Clinical Mental Health Counselors Examination (CMHCE),
which has an accompanying credential through NBCC — Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC), which is being used by many states as their licensing exam. The
consensus was that, If our title were to be changed, the word “Clinical” should be in it. (There is much further thinking on this, but that is for another day.) As President I further proposed that, in Florida, FMhCA, as an organization should approach the 491 Board and offer to take over vetting of candidates to LMHC licensure. Since I became president, one of our major goals was to grow the organization. There are currently over
10,000 LMHC’s in Florida. One of my goals when I became President was to double the membership. Since then FMHCA has more than tripled the membership. But we still have a long
way to go.

In summation: Unity is the key factor in all of the vectors coming together to define the future of our profession. And in order to achieve unity, we have to have a hub of the wheel. I would encourage and challenge each of you redid this to share these ideas with your colleagues an to urge them to join FMHCA, so we have the strongest voice possible as we move forward.

MICHAEL G. HOLLER, MA, NCC, CFMHE, CCCE, CCMHC, LMHC- Past President & Ethics Committee Chair, Florida Mental Health Counselors Association (FMHCA)

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The question of how this will impact you as non-prescribing providers remains, but at a minimum, it appears that the legislature may limit prescribing to such a degree that alternative therapies within pain/acute pain will become more regularly utilized.

There is no doubt that your profession will be impacted by this trend.
This Senate version of the bill was filed yesterday and has a long way to go through the process.

Video and story:
WFSU Local News
GOP Senator Highlights Opioid Prescription Limits In Video

Bill link:

HR 3032! Urgent!!! Still only 1 Congressman from Florida signed on as a co-sponsor. Here's an incentive, ok? The first FMHCA member whose Congressman signs on as a co-sponsor to HR 3032 gets one FREE admission to one of the Pre-Conference Workshops. I have already contacted Vern Buchanan's office and provided information. So, Tag you're it. Hit the phones and make this happen!

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Humana Behavioral Health/TRICARE

Humana Military and its outgrowth Humana Behavioral Health has grown out of the consolidation of the former South and East Regions into one gargantuan East Region, and have shifted operations away from the previously successful and well-managed Value Options in Jacksonville. The first rollout of what was purported to be a “seamless” transition was that many providers got E-mails; many didn’t; some got written contracts; some didn’t; the start was October; now it’s January, 2018; and on and on. But the one thing that was common, disingenuous and greed-driven was a demand that network providers accept 30-35% less to be a part of “Prime.” The news was delivered as haphazardly as much of the rest of the changes, but delivered nonetheless. CMAC rates are public knowledge, e.g. $96.54 for a 60 minute session (OP). And, now the new (old) gang in town demands us to take 35% less. Up front. 

Humana Behavioral Health/TRICARE:

  • Who is our provider contact at Humana Military?
  • To whom do we channel our issues with this Draconian cut in rates & services?
  • Is the TCMHC (Tricare Clinical Mental Health Counselor) designation transitioned from Value Options/PGBA to HUMANA or does process begin again? When?
  • Is Humana asking 35% from LMHC’s and 30% from psychologists?
  • What’s the basis for this arbitrary discrimination - psychologists vs. LMHC’s, social workers, etc.? 
  • Is Humana Military asking for 35% discount from CMAC for Med/Surg fees? What discounts are Med/Surg providers being asked to shoulder? 
  • Is there a complete disregard for Mental Health Parity laws and policies? 
  • What is HUMANA’s commitment to # of network providers in Panhandle?
  • Hoe do we inform ourselves on that public part of the contract?
  • How will HUMANA fulfill its commitment to staff enough network providers in regions that are heavily militarily populated - like the Panhandle? 
  • More cost of care will shift to military members, families and veterans; more self-pay & co-pay will occur; less coverage, less saturation; more profit for companies at cost to patients?
  • TRICARE will change on January 2018

Contacts re: Humana Behavioral Health/TRICAREL

We, the Florida Mental Health Counselors Association, thank you for taking time to meet with us on July 27th to discuss the importance of Bill H.R. 3032, the Mental Health Access Improvement Act of 2017. If passed this bill will increase the number of mental health providers and mental health services to older adults by granting Medicare billing rights to Licensed Mental Health Counselors and L...See More

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FMHCA legislative-co-chair and lobbyist meet with Senate Majority Leader, Bill Galvano, regarding mental health professions! He's one of the busiest men in Florida, but he took the time to listen.

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