In an interview with National Public Radio, Gov. Bill Haslam said he’s seeking input from “a lot of folks” on whether a veto is warranted for HB1840, which declares therapists could reject clients when counseling them would run counter to the therapist’s principles.
After the interview was aired, Haslam got some input from the American Counseling Association, which opposes the bill and didn’t like what he had to say.
In the NPR interview, Haslam said he had boiled his thinking down to this central question: whether therapists could truly leave their values out of their work.
On one hand, he points out that the American Counseling Association “says you should always counsel from a valueless position. In other words, you don’t put your own values into the conversation; you’re there to help.”
But, he added, “I personally wonder … regardless of whether you’re a religious person or not, everybody comes into every conversation with a particular worldview and things that you believe are right or wrong. The question is can you counsel from a totally non-value-based position?”
…Asked about the argument that therapists should have an obligation to serve everyone, Haslam said, “Lawyers don’t serve everyone. … Lawyers right now can say, ‘I’m not the person to help you on that issue; I don’t agree with what you’re trying to do’; and they can turn down that person and they can go somewhere else.”
Note: The resulting ACA press release is below
By Shelia Burke, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A bill that would allow mental health counselors to turn patients away based on the counselors’ religious beliefs and personal principles has passed in the House in Tennessee, the latest state to introduce measures that opponents say legalize discrimination against gays, bisexuals and transgender people.
The Senate, which already passed the measure (SB1556), still would have to approve an amendment adopted by the House.
The bill passed 68-22 Wednesday following a rancorous debate on the House floor. If it is signed into law, Tennessee would be the only state to allow counselors to refuse to treat patients based on their own belief system, said Art Terrazas, Director of Government Affairs for the American Counseling Association. The organization has called the bill an “unprecedented attack” on the counseling profession and government overreach.
Opponents of the measure say it would allow therapists to discriminate against gays and other people who are at their most vulnerable and need therapy. Proponents say it takes into account the rights of everyone, including the therapists. Continue reading
CLEVELAND, Tenn. (AP) — Federal prosecutors claim a Medicare fraud scheme at Cleveland-based Life Care Centers of America was cooked up and enforced by management.
According to recently unsealed court records obtained by the Chattanooga Times Free Press (http://bit.ly/TkQ7wF) managers are accused of instructing therapists to assign patients to the highest level of therapy regardless of whether it was needed.
The “Ultra High” level and can pay a provider as much as $564, while the lowest rate of therapy pays $231.
The whistleblower lawsuits claim that employees who questioned the policies were often fired within weeks.
Company representatives declined comment to the newspaper, referring reporters to a letter stating that Life Care’s therapy programs improve patients’ conditions and quality of life.
If found guilty, Life Care could face hundreds of millions in fines.