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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

ABA Licensing in Texas

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the day-to-day challenges facing autistic people and their families.

Sebastian Herrera reports at the Houston Chronicle on SB 589 and House Bill 26, which would require licensing of behavior analysts in Texas:
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) stakeholders and supporters in the state now are attempting to regulate the practice with two bills in the Legislature that would require behavior analysts to be licensed. Supporters say it is crucial not only to protect vulnerable people from untrained analysts, but also because it could affect medical insurance coverage.
Senate Bill 589, by Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville,is scheduled for a Senate committee hearing Tuesday. It faces an uncertain reception, though no public opposition has surfaced.
"Right now, there's just no way for the state to regulate the profession," said Dorothea Lerman, director of the Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities at the University of Houston Clear Lake and president of the Texas Association for Behavior Analysis."(The bill) is to protect the consumer, and the other reason is to protect our profession as well."
The TxABA Public Policy Group has raised about $20,000 to pay lobbyist Courtney Hoffman to represent them at the Legislature, said Kate Johnson-Patagoc, director of specialized services at the Texana.
Herrera reports in a more recent article:
SB 589 supporters also say licensure could lead some insurers who don't cover ABA treatment to change their policies. The federal government requires licensure for Medicaid reimbursements, according to Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, the chair of the Senate Business and Commerce Committee, which heard the bill.
Joseph McCoy, a psychologist from the Rio Grande Valley, was the sole person to testify against the bill. While McCoy supports licensure for behavior analysts, he believes the measure should be regulated by the Texas Board of Examiners of Psychologists because ABA treatment has psychology roots.
The bill currently lists the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation as the proposed license regulator after a committee substitute amended that part of the legislation. The bill's original version proposed the Texas Medical Board as the regulator.
House Bill 26, by Rep. Ron Simmons, R-Carrollton, would also require licensure for behavior analysts. The bill is pending in a House committee.
The state currently spends about $7 million annually on autism programs.
Senators said SB 589 would be heard again next Tuesday. A licensure bill passed the full House in the last legislative session before getting stuck in the Senate. Backers hope a similar result won't happen this time.