NYS Council Written Testimony for Feb 4 Hearing on Higher Education

February 4, 2021

Later this month I will be testifying on behalf of the members of the NYS Council at the Joint Legislative Hearing that examines the Governor’s executive budget proposals in the areas of Health  & Medicaid.  However, the NYS Council is finishing off our written testimony for tomorrow’s Mental Hygiene hearing (will share with everyone shortly), and we have already completed and sent in testimony for the Higher Education hearing that is happening today.

Our testimony for the Higher Education Committee addresses one of two problems that will impact our system of care unless there is a resolution that permits some Article 163 practitioners (LMHCs, LMFTs) to continue to practice at the top of their scope, to include being able to render a diagnosis, when the exemption for our workforce from the Licensing Laws of 2003, 2010 and 2018 sunsets.  Regarding the second issue, we remain deeply concerned over the lack of specificity in Part Y of the Laws of 2018 pertaining to the specific tasks and activities unlicensed staff will be able to perform once the exemption sunsets.  We are taking on these issues separately, using a different advocacy strategy for each.

The NYS Council and the NYS Coalition for Children’s Behavioral Health recently spearheaded an online petition to gather signatures from those New Yorkers who want to see the diagnosis issue resolved such that all Article 163 practitioners will be permitted to practice at the top of their scope (to include rendering a diagnosis).  Thanks to you and your staff we collected over 500 signatures in less than one week.  We are sharing the petition (just first names, city, and comments) with lawmakers and state agency officials to drive home the urgency of this issue.  THANK YOU to everyone who signed the petition and/or assisted us by circulating it.  The comments included by some of those who signed on reflect the clear investment in and dedication to the provision of high quality community-based mental health and substance use disorder/addiction care.  Our workforce simply cannot afford to lose Article 163 practitioners!

Tomorrow we will tell you more about our efforts on the second issue (mentioned above) impacting our workforce.  But for now, I invite you to review the petition and read the comments provided by Article 163 practitioners and other staff working in our programs.  They are truly inspiring.