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January 2022 Legislative Update

As we welcome 2022, the WAMFT Advocacy Network wants to express gratitude for your ongoing support of our advocacy efforts in Washington.

Looking ahead to 2022 in Washington

In the 2022 Legislative Session, many issues related to behavioral health will be at the forefront as the legislature looks for ways to address the behavioral healthcare workforce shortage and increase access to care.

During Committee Assembly Days week (Nov 15-19, 2021), the Senate Behavioral Health Subcommittee heard policy recommendations from the state's Behavioral Health Workforce Advisory Committee. The recommendations included a 7% increase in the Medicaid reimbursement rate for community behavioral health agencies, support for behavioral health apprenticeships, and financial support and incentives for the workforce.

The subcommittee also heard recommendations from the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Work Group, which advocated for funding to explore implementation of Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, issuing grants to put more BH clinicians in schools, the creation of a clinical supervision work group to reduce barriers to certification for all three masters level licenses, and expansion of the Parent Support Warm Line.

Access to Care

This is a critical time for MFTs to be visible as stakeholders in the dialogue and advocate for the MFT profession. We endorse the notion of increased access to care for clients, which is disproportionately impacting those most marginalized in our state. However, some of the avenues being proposed to bolster the workforce using lesser trained individuals pose concern and bear thoughtful review and dialogue to design appropriate roles within the continuum of care.

Supervision Requirements

The Children and Youth Behavioral Health Task Force within the Health Care Authority has begun an initiative to simplify/streamline supervision requirements for all behavioral health professions in Washington. WAMFT will advocate for streamlining/simplifying supervision requirements for MFTs while also striving to protect the MFT profession and preserve the quality of the MFT license in WA State. This will be a multi-year process due to the biennial nature of the Washington State Legislature.

WAC Rules Revision

Washington State’s Department of Health (DoH) announced in 2021 that it would begin a rules revision of the Washington Administrative Code (Chapter 246-809 WAC) related to the practice of MFT and other behavioral health professions in Washington starting September 2021 and continuing into 2022 until completion. WAMFT will continue to engage with this process and keep membership informed of updates. The rule-making workshops are open to the public, and the next one will be held on February 11, 2022 as part of the Mental Health Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Social Workers Advisory Committee quarterly meeting.

MFTs and Insurance–We want to hear from you!

In November 2021, WAMFT hosted a MFTs and Insurance 101 dialogue with the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC), and the OIC has asked for additional information to better understand MFT experience with commercial carriers and what would make it more attractive for MFTs to contract with commercial carriers. We are interested in hearing from you about this important topic–please take a few minutes to fill out this survey re Insurance and MFTs.

Survey (results will be aggregated and shared anonymously with the OIC):

MFTs in schools–We want to hear from you!

We’ve begun dialogue with the Office for the Superintendent for Public Instruction (OSPI) and several Washington Educational Service Districts regarding the role of MFTs in schools, and we want to hear from our members about whether MFTs in Washington would be interested in working in schools if hired directly by school districts rather than contracted through a behavioral agency. Please reach out to if you have thoughts to share and/or are interested in joining our “MFTs in Schools Task Force” to work on this project–and stay tuned for a listening conversation that WAMFT may be hosting in 2022 to hear your thoughts.

Wishing you a warm and bright new year.

Warm regards,

Charity Laughlin, LMFT

Legislative Committee Chair

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