How does COPACT represent me as an LPC/LMFT in Oregon?
COPACT retains a lobbyist in order to advocate for any legislation that affects LPCs and LMFTs in Oregon and to advance new legislation proposed by the COPACT board. Our current lobbyists are very effective in establishing and maintaining relationships with Oregon legislators throughout the year. When COPACT proposes new legislation, legislators are more than likely to get on board due to these established relationships.
COPACT responds to the concerns expressed by Oregon LPCs and LMFTs. Information comes to us through ORCA and OAMFT and also directly to COPACT via email, Facebook and our website. When we hear of a new concern, the COPACT board of directors meet to decide how to respond. For example in 2017, we heard from a number of LPCs and LMFTs that Regence had started to apply all intake fees to the client’s deductible, which meant that our clients were suddenly required to pay a full session fee out of pocket instead of just their copay as they had in the past. We knew from experience that once Regence makes a change in how they operate, it is very common for the other insurers to follow suit, so we acted quickly. We determined that Regence’s policy change was in opposition of the requirements of the US Affordable Care Act and along with the Oregon Psychological Association, we contacted Regence immediately to let them know of our findings. Regence reversed their policy and our clients were no longer responsible for paying the full intake fee out of pocket.
Through our lobbyists, we are also informed of new bills being proposed by legislators as well as policy changes being implemented by the Oregon Health Authority, DHS or other state agencies. Our lobbyists bring new information to the COPACT board and we direct them how to respond by telling them to support, remain neutral, or oppose it. In addition, COPACT board members sometimes go to Salem for a meeting with an agency leadership team, or to testify in a legislative committee. At other times we write letters to legislative committee members supporting or opposing particular bills.
COPACT works directly with our licensure board, OBLPCT, to address any changes they make to the rules governing LPCs and LMFTs. When OBLPCT announces a change to Rule, (OAR Chapter 833), COPACT goes over each change to see if it is consistent with our Practice Act,(ORS 675.705 - 675.835). If we think the proposed changes to Rule are in conflict with what is contained in the Practice Act, we write long letters and potentially have a meeting with OBLPCT to try to resolve the differences.
Furthermore, when OBLPCT or anyone else wants to change the Practice Act, COPACT has to approve the language changes they wish to make. In a way, COPACT owns the Practice Act. We wrote it and we have to approve any changes to it. COPACT has the ability to derail any attempt to change the Practice Act. That remains true as long as we have a lobbyist watching our backs in Salem. Without a lobbyist, our ability to protect the Practice Act goes down considerably as we might not be made aware of any changes to our Practice Act until it is in the process of passing.