Washington State Legislative Update:
The 2022 Washington State Legislative Session concluded March 10, 2022. Policymakers this legislative session were particularly interested in addressing mental healthcare concerns and addressing access to care issues, but some of the proposed legislation had not received adequate input from the behavioral health professions. The bills which WAMFT expressed concerns about did not pass this legislative session.
WAMFT’s annual Day on the Hill (February 17) offered an important opportunity to speak directly with policymakers about the lived experience of practicing MFT in Washington, particularly during this challenging time.
2022 Washington Legislative Session Outcome Highlights:
SB 5596 Conforming disclosure restrictions for mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, and social workers to the requirements of the Uniform Health Care Information Act. SB 5596 did not pass the Washington State legislature in the 2022 legislative session.*
HB 1865 Addressing the behavioral health workforce shortage and expanding access to peer services by creating the profession of certified peer specialists. HB 1865 did not pass the Washington State legislature in the 2022 legislative session.*
HB 1821 Concerning the definition of established relationship for purposes of audio-only telemedicine.
This bill defines the “established relationship” requirement for audio-only telemedicine that goes into effect on 1/1/23. HB 1821 passed the Washington State Legislature in 2022 and was signed into law on March 30, 2022.
SB 5638 Concerning expediting approval for applicants for an associate license as a social worker, mental health counselor, or marriage and family therapist.
This bill gives Washington associate license applicants the ability to work as an associate (with their supervisor onsite) while waiting for their associate license to be issued. SB 5638 did not pass the Washington State legislature in the 2022 legislative session.
HB 2040 Streamlining licensing requirements for certain behavioral health professions.
This bill reduces postgraduate supervision and experience hours requirements for all masters-level behavioral health professions in Washington by 50%, including for MFTs.
HB 2040 did not pass the Washington State legislature in the 2022 legislative session.
SB 5884 Establishing Behavioral Health Support.
This bill requires the Department of Health to partner with the University of Washington to develop rules for the certification for behavioral health support specialists (bachelor-level paraprofessionals trained to deliver low-intensity, evidence-based behavioral health interventions for adults with mild-to-moderate behavioral health conditions in ongoing partnership with a licensed healthcare provider). SB 5884 did not pass the Washington State legislature in the 2022 legislative session.
learn more about WAMFT's position on these bills, and others, here.
*see below for more info on our advocacy efforts re. SB 5596 & HB 1865
Legislative Advocacy Efforts (not necessarily a complete list):
HB 1865 Addressing the behavioral health workforce shortage and expanding access to peer services by creating the profession of certified peer specialists
Provided written testimony expressing our concerns for 1/24/22 House Healthcare and Wellness Committee public hearing. View the Committee Public Hearing here.
Provided written testimony to all representatives February 2022 expressing our concerns and urging them to vote no on HB 1865.