I need your help. Time is of the essence.
The Sober Home Task Force report, issued January 1, 2017, when read in combination with the Grand Jury Report which preceded it in December of 2016, collectively paint a portrait of a healthcare industry under-regulated, under-funded, and allowed to suffer the victimization of a private market system run amok. While I am no fan of “big government”, there is a time, and a place, when only government can serve in vital functions that the private sector simply cannot fill. The regulation of healthcare delivery is unequivocally one such paradigm.
One of the key aspects that the Proviso Committee identified as problematic was state statute and implementing rules allowing for non-clinical, non-licensed personnel to be involved in treatment, including but not limited to therapeutic counseling.
While there have been many suggestions as to why this has been allowed, the facts are that, if we are to demand drug addiction to be treated as a disease, and overdoses to drug misuse as an epidemic, and that behavioral healthcare be treated “on par” with its medical counterparts (referred to as “parity”), then we must demand that only persons with proper credentials and qualifications treat our patients.
In other words, we don’t just need our healthcare providers to be “educated”; we also need them to be “regulated.”
While the Proviso Committee of the Task Force, as well as the Citizens Committee, in combination with industry leaders, have collectively proposed language that would require all behavioral healthcare providers and their service delivery staff to meet certain minimum qualifications (and which suggestion had been included in pending legislation before the Florida House and the Florida Senate), unknown special interests groups have been lobbying hard behind the scenes to have these provisions stripped from the proposed legislation.
Multiple committees have reviewed the legislation with the “qualified professional” language included and voted to approve the legislation unanimously.
Now, at the 11th hour, well-funded lobbyists are moving throughout the halls of Tallahassee to ensure their client’s interests are protected, at the risk to the health of all Floridians.
I am making this personal plea to ask you to take just a minute of your day and to contact the following elected officials and let them know that House Bill 807 and its counterpart, Senate Bill 788, should not be weakened.
Here is proposed language to use. Please feel free to edit and revise for your own writing style.
Dear State Representatives:
I am a concerned citizen who has been made aware that lobbyists have made last-minute proposals to weaken the well-studied protections suggested by the Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force recommendations relating to minimum standards for behavioral healthcare providers. I ask that you respect the suggestions made by the Task Force requiring licensure/certification of clinical professionals working in a license substance abuse treatment facility in Florida as currently exists in House Bill 807 and Senate Bill 788. The Legislature funded the activities of the Task Force to examine the current statutes and regulations governing the delivery of such services and I ask that great deference be given to their findings and suggested legislation. Your colleagues who have examined and voted on this same legislation have agreed. Any further amendment that weakens the protections suggested only serves to undermine healthcare in Florida, to the benefit of those who are silently proffering the amendments which may come before you by others than the original sponsors.
The proposed amendment is coming before the Florida House Health & Human Services Committee on Thursday, March 30th. Therefore the time to act is now!
Here is who to contact: