The Oregon Counseling Association works to provide professional advocacy for mental health counselors and their clients. Your membership helps us change legislation via the Coalition of Oregon Professional Associations for Counseling and Therapy (COPACT).
COPACT is a tax-exempt non-profit that focuses on reviewing all potential bills that would affect Oregon licensed professional counselors (LPCs), licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFTs), registered interns, and students. They hire a lobbyist to represent LPCs and LMFTs where we need it most. COPACT collaborates with ORCA as well as the Oregon Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (OAMFT).
Your ORCA Membership Dues at Work: The History of COPACT
After 15 years of hard legislative work, LPCs and LMFTs were able to get our Practice Act passed into law in 2009. The Practice Act does two things: it gives us the right to receive insurance reimbursement for our work, and it defines that LPCs and LMFTs are legally considered core providers of mental health services in Oregon, joining Psychiatrists, Nurse Practitioners, Psychologists, and LCSWs. Thus LPCs and LMFTs are at the table whenever a major decision is being made concerning mental health services in Oregon.
The Coalition of Oregon Professional Associations for Counseling and Therapy (COPACT) originated in 2010 to be an ongoing lobbying organization to represent both LPCs and LMFTs and to protect the Practice Act.
This is what COPACT has done for you since 2010:
•COPACT worked to protect and strengthen the Practice Act and to amend any statutes that included social workers but not LPCs and LMFTs
•Passed HB 3668,which amended the Practice Act to allow 100 LPCs to hold onto their licenses.
•Passed HB 2217,which extended the exemption from punitive damages in malpractice suits to include LMFTs and LPCs.
•Met with the Oregon Insurance Commissioner to address many years of mental health reimbursement rate cuts.
•Stopped a bill that threatened the Practice Act.
•Worked on a failed bill to require insurers to be more transparent about how they determine reimbursement rates.
•Worked on failed independent mental health agencies bill that would increase the availability of internships.
•Hired Maura Roche as COPACT’s lobbyist.
•Passed HB 2768,which amended the Practice Act to make practice definitions more enforceable and better situated for health care reform. It also amended the LMFT internship section to allow the same amount of internship for LMFTs as LPCs
•Passed SB 491,which allowed teens to self-refer to access care from LPCs and LMFTs.
•Worked on HB 2737, which allowed independent mental health clinics to more easily bill insurance, which had the effect of increasing the availability of internships. The bill passed.
•Testified in support of a failed bill to require insurers to be more transparent in their determination of reimbursement rates.
•Helped with the merger of the Oregon Mental Health Counselors Association and ORCA to give COPACT a more secure funding base.
•Hired lobbyist Elizabeth Remley following Maura Roche’s retirement.
•During the short legislative session, set up an efficient structure to evaluate bills.
•Participated with the Oregon Insurance Commission work group as it created a bill to address how to define insurance network adequacy.
•Evaluated 88 mental health bills during the long legislative session,
•Supported HB 2307, which prohibits the use of Conversion Therapy on minors.
•Supported HB 2796, which set up licensure process for Music Therapists.
•Helped clarify and support HB 2023, which set up policies for hospitals when discharging mental health clients.
•Supported HB 430, which prohibits licensure boards from issuing a license to a person with a conviction for sex crimes.
•Supported HB 2468, which directs the Oregon Insurance Division to establish specifics for making provider networks more accessible for clients and providers.
•Supported HB 832,which allows for full reimbursement of mental health services provided in a primary care setting and opens that treatment setting to LPCs and LMFTs.
•Closely watched HB 3347,which makes it easier for courts to commit a mental health patient under the basic personal needs criteria.
•Kept an eye on SB 901,which requires insurers to directly reimburse an out-of- network provider who bills the insurer.
•Met with Senator Wyden’s staff to lobby for a bill he sponsored in the US Senate to extend Medicare reimbursement rights to LMFTs and LPCs.
•Throughout the year, met with the Insurance Commission work group that was trying to define what makes an adequate provider network.
•During the short session, kept an eye on a number of mental health related bills including SB 1558, which protects students’ mental health records. This was an attempt to protect the privacy of survivors of sexual assault on college campuses.
•Met with the Insurance Commission to address how reimbursement cuts have a negative effect on access to mental health care for Oregonians.
•Met with the Oregon Health Authority to address increasing caseloads for therapists working in Community Mental Health Programs.
•Evaluated 74 bills that had an impact on mental health services and LPCs and LMFTs.
•Protected the rights of LMFTs and LPCs to use art in their practices and to provide services to sex offenders.
•Supported Art Therapists in their successful effort to obtain state licensure.
•Successfully fought against legislative efforts to define required topics for continuing education training
•Closely watched a failed bill, which would have allowed clients to receive psychiatric medications from qualified and supervised psychologists.
•Helped develop and worked to pass SB 860, which creates a structure to evaluate mental health reimbursement reductions as potential violations of parity law. SB 860 may end over 20 years of steady reductions in mental health reimbursement rates in Oregon.
•Kept an eye on revenue raising strategies that would have increased taxes on all mental health related services. That effort died.
•Opposed an insurance company’s new policy that would have increased out-of-pocket costs for clients. The company retracted that policy.
COPACT cannot do this alone. COPACT will continue to protect the interests of LPCs and LMFTs as long as you are able to give your financial support. Please donate at copactoregon.com/donate and maintain your memberships in ORCA and OAMFT. If you are interested in helping out directly, contact us at PublicPolicy@or-counseling.org.