State Sen. Curt Bramble is sponsoring a bill in the 2024 legislative session intended to increase Utahns’ access to mental health services. The bill, SB0026, proposes to cut the required hours of experience for mental health provider licensure by a dangerous 60%; from 3,000 to 1,200 hours. This change not only places clients’ well-being at risk by diminishing the field’s experience but also fails to consider other important factors for the mental health field.
One concern is that with the proposed changes, Utah may not maintain quality of care competitive to surrounding states requiring 3,000-4,000 hours and possibly render us ineligible for the Social Work Licensure Compact. This compact benefits Utahns by allowing therapists to have their licenses honored amidst multiple states. The changes are more reflective of an associate degree rather than the high level of skill and safety a master’s degree provides; the high level care Utahns deserve.
The bill also fails to address the responsibility and power insurance companies hold in influencing access to care. They maintain their own requirements for providers in addition to those of educational institutions and state licensing, creating hurdles that negatively impact provider financial stability. This leads to therapists flocking to cash-pay services, perpetuating the gap of affordable health care services to marginalized low-income Utahns. This bill requires additional attention and amendments involving direct feedback from therapists and clients before being enacted.