Meet our WCA Legislative Advocate

As a member benefit, Wyoming Counseling Association contracts with a Legislative Advocate to track Wyoming state legislation and meet with legislators on behalf of WCA members. Our advocate provides updates to our membership about legislation impacting mental health providers and the communities they serve. Your membership dues help make this advocacy work possible!

Lindsay Simineo, LPC

Lindsay Simineo is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Cheyenne, WY. Her private practice focuses on trauma, adolescents and the needs of LGBTQ+ folks. Lindsay has been able to use her skills and interests towards advocacy as well as legislative work. Since 2017 Lindsay has been working with the WCA to monitor state and federal legislation that impacts mental health providers and consumers including but not limited to Medicare amendments, state licensure amendments, access to medicaid and access to services. 

 

 

 


WCA Advocacy In Action:

Read more about WCA advocacy and legislative updates below:

Wyoming Counseling Association Legislative Report 2020 

This year WCA was very involved with the interim and budget legislative sessions in Wyoming. We worked on a number of bills to help support mental health needs and counselors in our state.

SF0113: Clubhouse-Based Psychosocial Rehabilitation Programs-Repeal.

A bill that would have repealed clubhouse funding through Medicaid. We advocated for this bill in 2019 and it passed. The hope was to save money with its repeal. Information informing Appropriations that funding the program would save the state money long term was given to them. It appears that this bill “found a drawer”, meaning it mysteriously didn’t make it to Committee of the Whole in time. A win is a win regardless of how it comes.

SF0107 – Penal Institutions-Addiction Counselor License Reciprocity.

The hope of this bill was to create certifications so that those coming from out of state could practice within the prison system. It was an incomplete bill that did not take into account current certifications and standards, and was dropped at the very last minute. It would have created duplicate certifications, one new certification (Certified Criminal Justice Specialist) and lacked definitions, scope of practice.  This was the bill we lobbied the strongest against and by far took up the most time. Though it passed through the Senate it died in first reading on the House floor 12-46-2.

HB0127 – Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation.

This was a bill that was watched closely as it originally contain language that would have made sex reassignment surgery illegal for anyone under 18. This was concerning because it would have placed a limit on trans health for minors as well as open the opportunity for more anti-trans legislation in the future. The language was amended out by the Senate. The bill passed and was signed by Gov. Gordon on March 13, 2020.

HB0075 – Medicaid Expansion-Authorization.

Unfortunately this bill never made it passed its initial introduction. Failed House Introduction 20-39-1.

HB0031 – Criminal Justice-Mental Health-Substance Use Programming.

This bill placed funding back into programs with the hopes of decreasing the recidivism rate in Wyoming. The Wyoming Counseling Association has worked closely with TreNd, and the ACLU to advocate on this bill. Because of the fervor of SF107, we were not able to actively lobby for this bill as much as we had planned, but made sure that we were represented on all written lobbying materials for the bill. As of right now this bill has been signed by the Senate President, the Speaker of the House, and is awaiting signature by the Governor Gordon.

SF0117 – First Responder Workplace Mental Injury Coverage.

This bill allowed mental health services to be covered by worker’s compensation for all first responders as well as gave them job protections for seeking out said services. We advocated for this bill. The bill has been signed by the Senate President, the Speaker of the House as is awaiting signature by Governor Gordon.

Suicide Prevention Funding

Through working with Rep. Sweeney as well as others on the appropriations committee, WAMHSAC, Grace For 2 Brothers, and NASW-WY we were able to secure $400,000 in funding for a call center for Wyoming. Without a call center, all calls from Wyoming to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline were being outsourced to other states, making it impossible to get those calling local resources. This call center will be vital in getting local resources to those who need it.

 

It was a very active and exhausting year, but the work that was accomplished was rewarding. I thank you for the opportunity to represent the WCA, and look forward to the work to come.

Sincerely,

Lindsay Simineo, MA, LPC
WCA Legislative Advocate
PO Box 843
Cheyenne, WY 82003
yanacounseling@gmail.com

WCA Board members Janet de Vries and Amanda DeDiego visited the Wyoming capitol in partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Grace for 2 Brothers to advocate for funding a Wyoming Crisis Call Center as an affiliate of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Janet and Amanda are pictured with Representatives Andi Clifford, Sara Burlingame (left), and Garry Piiparinen (right)

WCA in partnership with NASW-WY offered a legislative advocacy panel, “Legislative Advocacy in Behavioral Health: A Panel Discussion,” at the 2019 fall conference in Cheyenne, WY. The panel was moderated by Lance Goede, member of the Mental Health Professionals Licensing Board. Panelists included:

  • Senator Tara Nethercott, Co-Chair Wyoming Judiciary Committee
  • Representative Sue Wilson, Co-Chair Wyoming Labor & Health Committee
  • Korin Schmidt, Director of the Department of Family Services
  • Bob Lampert, Director of the Department of Corrections
  • Tara Muir, JD, Lobbyist/Public Policy Director WCADVSA
  • Andi Summerville, Executive Director/Lobbyist WAMHSAC
  • Lindsay Simineo, LPC, Legislative Advocate Wyoming Counseling Association

President Chris Clark traveled to Washington, DC for the 11th annual ACA Institute for Leadership Training as a representative of Wyoming. As part of his visit, Chris presented Wyoming Senator John Barrasso with the American Counseling Association Legislative Service Award in recognition of his ongoing sponsorship of legislation to allow LPCs as providers for Medicare mental health services. Chris is pictured below with ACA President, Heather Trepal, and ACA CEO, Richard Yep, presenting this award.

Get involved with advocacy for Medicare reimbursement through the American Counseling Association!

WCA Past President, Amanda DeDiego, traveled to Washington, DC in partnership with the American Counseling Association. She met with Wyoming legislators Senator John Barrasso, Senator Mike Enzi, and Representative Liz Cheney in addition to congressional committee staff advocating for Medicare coverage for counselors and increased funding for school counselors nation-wide.

Get involved with advocacy for Medicare reimbursement through the American Counseling Association!

Member-at-Large Janet de Vries attended an advocacy event for mental heath parity in January 2019. Supported by legislators like Representative Sara Burlingame (pictured below), HB0122 was passed providing comparable reimbursement for mental health services by insurance providers.

Follow Wyoming Counseling Association for legislative updates and advocacy opportunities!

President, Amanda DeDiego, and President-Elect, Chris Clark, met with the Wyoming Governor’s Behavioral Health Advisory Council in Cheyenne, WY. During their scheduled meeting on March 8th, our WCA representatives shared about the important work counselors do in the state of Wyoming to support mental health needs. They also discussed with the committee issues related to mental health access in the state.

Read more about this Wyoming Department of Health council and how to get involved here.

President-Elect Chris Clark traveled to Washington, DC for the 10th annual ACA Institute for Leadership Training as a representative of Wyoming. As part of his visit, Chris met with Wyoming Senators John Barrasso and Mike Enzi to advocate for legislation to allow LPCs to be recognized for reimbursement with Medicare. Every summer state leaders travel to Washington, DC for a Day on the Hill to promote the important work of counselors.

Read more about this leadership training here.

WCA President-Elect, Amanda DeDiego, traveled to Washington, DC for the ACA Institute for Leadership Training as a representative of Wyoming. During this training she connected with state ACA leaders from across the country to talk about how to support counselors in training and advocacy. As part of the “Day on the Hill,” she met with Wyoming Senator John Barrasso to advocate for Medicare Coverage for counselors. Her efforts were noted in a recent Counseling Today article. Read more about this advocacy event here.

Get involved with advocacy for Medicare reimbursement through the American Counseling Association!

During the 2016 Wyoming legislative session, Wyoming Counseling Association joined forces with the Casper Economic Development Alliance (CAEDA) to promote the idea of bringing the University of Wyoming Counselor Education Master’s program back to the UW Casper campus.  The program has been put on hiatus for five years due to funding and staffing issues. The program is a three-year, 60 credit degree taught on weekends.  The students come from around the state and most are working in human service jobs.   Upon graduation, the majority stay living and working in Wyoming.  CAEDA researched and presented the need for more counselors in the state as an economic development strategy.  WCA spoke to the mental health needs of our frontier state. Rep. Bunky Loucks (R-Natrona County; pictured below) brought this issue to the full session of the legislature and was successful in adding a line item to the state budget to fund the salaries of two full-time faculty in Casper for three years.  This was a major victory since the legislature was cutting the budget.

Read this legislation here.

In 2015, WCA worked with Sen. Bill Landen (pictured below) to pass SF0102 Medicaid billing- provisional providers which streamlines the administration of provisionally licensed counselors, social workers, marriage and family therapists and addiction therapists providing mental health services for people with disabilities and low incomes.

Read this legislation here.

In 2014, WCA worked with Sen. Bill Landen (pictured below) to pass SF0089 Health Professional-Medicaid Billing which allowed LPCs, LCSWs, LMFTs and LATs to bill for Medicaid services providing mental health services for people with disabilities and low incomes.

Read this legislation here.