Last week, Iowa’s Governor Branstad proposed bill HSB138, which would have eliminated the licensure process for a number of professions including counseling, instead requiring anyone who wanted to be considered a counselor to simply register with the State Department of Public Health.
The elimination of the licensure process would have left counselors unable to be reimbursed by most insurance companies or Medicaid, unable to work for the Veterans Administration or TRICARE, and competing with “counselors” with little or no training or experience. ACA notified over 400 members in Iowa that this bill was being considered on a fast track and provided emails for them to send to their representatives. When a hearing was scheduled on the bill, ACA asked for members to attend the hearing on short notice to make their opposition known. Several did, and another member was able to get an interview with the local TV station, WHO. Thanks go to the ACA members who emailed and who went to the State Capitol, because the bill was defeated in the State Government subcommittee. The chairman actually tore it up. He said people were stopping him over the weekend to talk about the bill.
However, constant vigilance is necessary while state legislatures are in session. The Governor introduced another bill the next day that would establish a task force, mostly appointed by the Governor, to review the entire licensing board system in Iowa and make recommendations for changes down to the requirements for licensure in each profession, or for the elimination of some boards altogether. Apparently the show of opposition to the first bill was sufficient because the subcommittee refused to consider it. So, two wins for professional counseling in Iowa.