April 9, 2020 | Clara Keane
State legislatures have adjusted their session calendars and agenda in order to follow social distancing guidelines and to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. While the priority across the country is to protect the public and make sure other crucial legislation like state funding gets passed, most every other issue, like art therapy licensure, will have to wait for an unknown amount of time. This reality does not take away from the incredible progress we have made in our legislative efforts this year, thanks to the hundreds of art therapy advocates across the country that are paving the way for the future of the profession!
Let’s take a moment to recap and celebrate the victories and the progress made this year:
- A new license was enacted in Virginia and a Washington, DC licensure bill is awaiting approval by the Mayor! Read more details here.
- Nine additional art therapy licensure bills were active in the 2020 sessions! These include bills in Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.
- We have seen significant gains from our advocacy for reimbursement parity for licensed art therapists. Art therapists increased coverage under Medicaid in Mississippi, had a bill for private insurance parity pass committee in Delaware, and are advocating to have the new license in Connecticut recognized for reimbursement by private insurance companies.
- Art therapists have also continued to engage in state sunrise review processes. The Nebraska Art Therapy Licensure Coalition passed the first milestone in a sunrise review to determine the need to regulate art therapists, and a representative of Wisconsin Art Therapy Association testified in opposition to a bill that would create a sunrise review process to discourage occupations from obtaining appropriate licenses or regulation needed to protect the public.
Session Calendars Are Undetermined as Legislators Respond to COVID-19
While some state legislatures have already ended their regular sessions, many others have temporarily adjourned either in anticipation of reconvening at a later date or to make sure they have the appropriate technology to continue their work virtually. It is likely that special sessions will be called later in the year in order to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and other unfinished business. The National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures offer valuable resources on state actions on coronavirus.
We know that this is a difficult time for everyone – and it’s been particularly taxing for our mental health. Art therapists are needed in every community, now more than ever! While our regular outreach to lawmakers may be relaxed in the short term to allow public officials to focus on the priority at hand, we will be ready when opportunity arises. The AATA will continue to monitor state legislation and work with our on-the-ground advocates to continue expanding access to professional art therapists. For now, we want to offer a recap on where we left off in the 2020 sessions.
Art Therapy Legislative Progress in 2020
The below table shows the progress made in the 12 art therapy bills that have been active in the 2020 legislative sessions before the coronavirus crisis halted our efforts.
|State||Bill # and Link||Legislative Goal||Regular Session||COVID-19 Changes to the Session||Bill Status|
|Delaware||HB 218||Insurance Reimbursement||1/14 – 6/30||Postponed until further notice||The bill was reported out of committee (6/19/19).|
|District of Columbia||B23-250||Licensure||Legislature meets throughout the year||The bill was passed by the DC Council (4/7/20) and awaits action by the Mayor and then Congress.|
|Indiana||HB 1422/SB 439||Licensure||1/06 – 3/11||The legislature adjourned before either bill was put on committee agenda.|
|Iowa||HF 362||Licensure||1/13 – 4/21||Suspended until 04/30||The bill was not put on committee agenda.|
|Louisiana||HB 505||Licensure||3/9 – 6/1||Adjourned until further notice||The committee hearing scheduled for (3/12/20) was canceled due to COVID-19.|
|Massachusetts||S 141||Licensure||Legislature meets throughout the year||Art therapists testified (5/13/19) before the Joint Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee.|
|Nebraska||LB 422||Licensure Proposal||1/8 – 4/23||Adjourned until further notice||The Credentialing Review Committee voted unanimously to move the art therapy sunrise review application forward (3/3/20). The State Board of Health Credentialing Review Committee requested additional information before voting during their meeting (3/16/20).|
|New Hampshire||HB 546||Licensure||1/08 – 6/30||Adjourned until 05/04||The bill passed the House (3/19/20) and was slated to be put on the Senate calendar before the General Court adjourned due to COVID-19.|
|Ohio||SB 238||Licensure||Legislature meets throughout the year||A hearing tentatively scheduled for March has been postponed.|
|Pennsylvania||HB 932||Licensure||Legislature meets throughout the year||The bill has not been put on committee agenda.|
|Tennessee||HB 781/SB 55||Licensure||1/14 – 4/22||Adjourned until 6/1||The bill passed the first assigned committees in the Senate and the House and were placed on the calendars for the second committee assignments in late March. Both were canceled due to COVID-19|
|Virginia||SB 713||Licensure||1/8 – 3/12||The Governor signed the art therapy licensure bill into law on 3/11/20 to take effect on 7/1/20!|
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures regular sessions calendar and changes to the legislative calendar related to COVID-19.
Additional Regulatory and Advocacy Progress
- Connecticut – The Connecticut Art Therapy Association (CATA) has been advocating to have the new Clinical Licensed Art Therapist (CLAT) license recognized for reimbursement by private insurance companies in Connecticut with positive early results. CATA is in the final stages of working with Cigna and Aetna to add the CLAT as a license that would be accepted for insurance reimbursement, and they are in early discussions with Anthem.
- Mississippi – AATA sent a letter to the Mississippi Division of Medicaid asking for clarification on why Licensed Professional Art Therapists (LPAT) had been unable to bill Medicaid for services in community and private mental health settings and on a failed proposal to remove art therapists as providers of rehabilitative services. The Division’s response letter confirmed that art therapist continue to qualify for reimbursement under the State plan for rehabilitative services. The Division also committed to specifically listing licensed art therapists in the appropriate sections of the Administrative Code as providers of services in both community and private mental health settings.
- Wisconsin – The Wisconsin Art Therapy Association (WATA) responded to a request to testify before the Assembly Committee on Licensing and Regulatory Reform during a public hearing (1/8/20) considering a bill (AB 605) that would establish a sunrise review process, which would require new occupational licensing proposals to go through a formal evaluation by the State. In his testimony on behalf of WATA, Chris Belkofer, PhD, ATR-BC, LPC, voiced concerns about setting up a process intended to set up roadblocks to discourage occupations from obtaining appropriate licenses and offered alternatives to improve the legislation.
Clara Keane, Manager, Advocacy & Public Affairs
Clara supports our chapter state legislative and regulatory efforts and acts as liaison between the AATA and our partners in the wider mental health and arts communities. Clara also manages our bi-weekly newsletter Art Therapy Today.