Requiring a Transition Plan Specifying Future Regulation of Certain Mental Health Practices and Practitioners

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Problem Statement

Minnesota Laws 2003, Chapter 118 created the Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy to license professional counselors, repealed, effective July 1, 2004, the Office of Mental Health Practice conducted by the Department of Health and transferred, effective July 1, 2005, the licensing of alcohol and drug counselors from the Commissioner to the new Board.

Chapter 118 presumes no need for regulation of unlicensed practitioners after July 1, 2004. However, as a form of regulation, licensing laws do not comprehensively prohibit practice by unlicensed persons. Some persons do not apply for licenses, some license applicants are denied licenses and some persons have their licenses revoked. In addition all mental health licensing acts exempt different groups of persons from their licensing requirements.

Chapter 118 does not provide for completion of active investigations and enforcement actions against unlicensed practitioners and does not authorize the new Board to enforce regulations concerning unlicensed mental health practice. Finally, because the new Board has just begun operating, a detailed plan is needed to sequence and schedule the transfer of ongoing alcohol and drug counselor licensing activities.

How does this legislation address the problem?

Further discussion and consensus is needed about how unlicensed mental health practice will be regulated in the future. The legislation delays repeal of the Office of Mental Health Practice for one year, and it requires development of a transition plan to specify handling of current and future investigation and enforcement activities concerning unlicensed mental health practices and practitioners. The transition plan is also to include details regarding transfer of licensing activities for alcohol and drug counselors from the Department of Health to the new Board.

Who is affected?

Consumers of services from unlicensed mental health care practitioners are affected if there is no state agency clearly authorized to respond to consumer complaints of unethical and/or unprofessional conduct. The integrity and operation of agency licensing activities are affected when unlicensed practice occurs, consumers are harmed and no agency has responsibility for protecting the public.

The legislation is supported by the four mental health licensing boards and the Department of Health.

What are the consequences if this legislation did not pass?

Repeal of the Office of Mental Health Practice without authorization of an agency to assume responsibility for current and future complaints about unlicensed mental health practitioners would leave unprotected those mental health consumers who use the services of unlicensed practitioners. These consumers would have no recourse to mental health licensing boards because boards’ jurisdiction is limited to their licensees.

Updated Tuesday, 16-Nov-2010 12:27:55 CST