Legislative Testimony for LB422: Art Therapy Licensing

Legislative Testimony for LB422: Art Therapy Licensing

Chairwoman Howard and Vice Chair Arch, members of the committee.  My name is Laura Ebke, and I am the Senior Fellow for Job Licensing Reform at the Platte Institute.

LB 299, the Occupational Board Reform Act created a framework for the regular review—by the Legislature—of all occupational licenses created by the state.

The bill also re-affirmed a general policy where occupational licensing is concerned—established in the 407 process and explained in numerous documents that can be found on the DHHS Credentialing website—of regulating “only when necessary to protect the public.”

I understand that this is essentially a placeholder bill, awaiting the results of the 407 process for Art Therapists, and that action will likely not occur until next year, after that review completes. With that in mind, though, I’d encourage the Committee to consider a couple of things:

  1. WHY is licensing being requested? Is there an identified public health or safety risk involved with Art Therapists not being properly licensed? What is that risk? Are there verifiable examples of someone being harmed, or, more-likely-than-not to BE harmed?
  2. Is the primary interest to assure that Art Therapists can—if they so choose—potentially be reimbursed by insurance providers? If so, I would refer you to another option—a certification or other recognition in law, which would allow for the official recognition and creating of billing codes for Art Therapy—while not creating a new licensing board, or excluding those who might seek to perform some elements of Art Therapy from doing so if they choose not to pursue full certification.

This legislature has heard a number of bills this year, asking for licensing reciprocity for military spouses, and others. There is significant economic evidence out there—and I would be happy to provide you with links and/or references if you’ll email me—which suggest that more licensing results in less mobility for workers, and less competitive advantages versus states which have less (or no) licensing requirements in certain fields—and for higher costs for consumers.

One NCSL policy brief that I read recently suggested that one way that we might look at the need for licensing to protect the public health, safety, and welfare at this point in time, is by looking at how many states already provided for full licensing, as a standard for recognizing a public need. In looking at the American Art Therapy Association website, it appears that only 5 states fully license Art Therapists today: New Jersey, New Mexico, Kentucky, Mississippi and Maryland, although only one of those has a separate Art Therapy Licensing Board. Likewise, there are there are 5 other states which allow a specialization via certification or registration, in Art Therapy under their Professional Counseling, Mental health, or related licenses.

I would note, as well, that Wisconsin—which fell into the latter category–recently recommended the elimination of their Art Therapy registration.

Before the Legislature pursues additional licenses, the Platte Institute encourages the careful consideration of WHY additional licenses are necessary, and whether there are lesser means of regulating, should regulation be shown to be needed in response to a well known need for public safety.

Thank you, and I’d be happy to take any questions.

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