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This past month has been a whirlwind of activity, and I’m pleased to share CAMFT’s progress on significant advocacy wins and other legislative initiatives.
I attended a few key events in September, including the Association of Marriage and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB) Conference. I had the pleasure of presenting CAMFT’s position on license portability and sharing how COVID-19 coupled with telehealth transformed the needs and methods for delivering behavioral therapy. According to a 2017 CAMFT membership survey, 46% of survey respondents spent less than two hours per week devoted to telehealth services at that time. Now, according to Fortune magazine, over 80% of mental health services in the last year were virtual. The pandemic forever changed the ways in which many MFTs connect with their clients. For CAMFT, telehealth and license portability are about continuity of care, equity, and access.
CAMFT also collaborated with the Medicare Workforce Coalition to host a reception in Washington DC to celebrate our Medicare victory and honor four legislators, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), Representative Mike Thompson (D-CA), and Representative John Kato (R-NY) for their dedication to expanding Medicare coverage to include MFTs.
Senator Stabenow highlighted the challenges of passing health-related legislation – especially during tough federal budget times, sharing, “Sometimes it takes a focusing event like a disaster or crisis, which in this case was the Covid-19 pandemic, to bring significant attention to the problem of mental health workforce shortages in Medicare. Fortunately, we had the solution in hand through the Mental Health Access Improvement Act that had bipartisan support.” Senator Barrasso struck a similar tone in his speech, saying, “We know the public mood, comments from constituents and the like, and widespread media attention during the pandemic reinforced what we knew before the pandemic about mental health workforce shortages. The early warning signals were there before the crisis and we needed to take action.
CAMFT is grateful for these key legislators and the many others who helped us to achieve this momentous milestone. We will continue to bring you the information you need regarding MFTs and Medicare; keep visiting our Medicare Corner for updated information. And I encourage you to register for our next Medicare webinar on October 25th.
In addition to our Medicare wins, I have another exciting advocacy announcement to share: Governor Gavin Newsom signed the CAMFT co-sponsored Respect for Names Act, ensuring the privacy and safety of transgender and nonbinary individuals who have changed their legal names.
I hope we are inspiring you to join our advocacy efforts and to celebrate our wins on a deeper level. If you’re motivated by progress and enjoy leadership opportunities, I hope you’ll consider applying to join our Board of Directors starting in 2024. The deadline for applications is coming up quickly on October 27th, so be sure to check out our open positions and eligibility requirements. We’re excited to work closely with our members as we continue the path toward progress for all MFTs.
Joy Alafia, MBA, CAE
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