During last week's Music Therapy Hill Day organized by the SC MT Task Force on February 2, 2016 I was one of the attendees who received information and a review of the legislative climate of music therapy in SC.
Brief History of State Recognition of Music Therapy: The SC Music Therapy Task Force began in 2005. The first bill was introduced in 2010 by Rep. Chalk. The second bill was sponsored by Rep. Allison in 2011. Then there was discussion about a state registry of music therapists but it concluded in the house. Senators Leatherman and Lourie sponsored another bill in 2012 and 2013 but it did not pass from committees. There was waiver exploration during 2013 & 2014. Last year Senators Lourie and Leatherman reintroduced bill and at the time of 2016 SC Music Therapy Hill Day it was awaiting the second reading in the SC Senate.
As the two year cycle was reviewed with political information in the morning presentation, there were further reminders about the process for bills to be heard and the various ways of increasing grass root efforts such as a Change.org Petition that will be messaged to the the governor. Also insert fleeting memories of AP Government with an inspirational teacher Mr. Chris Burkett and wishes to have saved notes from his class to bring for this event!
In South Carolina there are 64 board certified music therapists. The current bill would allow music therapists to provide services covered under core Medicaid.
Learning of opposition from senators who are not in favor of licensing board certified music therapists in order to increase accessibly to clients and better protect potential consumers was difficult to comprehend.
A quick lunch at nearby Carolina Cafe minimally helped to calm my nerves for the opportunity to meet with SC Senators & SC Representatives!
These photos capture fellow advocates Sarah Pregnall, Mickey Fukasawa and Zoe Yim speaking with Senators Martin and Hayes about music therapy and support of the Senate Bill 589.
It was impressive to smell and feel the pressured climate in the lobby. There were more steps to the process such as awaiting photo copies of the request slips to be produced and attempting to quickly recognize the politician exit their prospective floors without any donned name tags or recognizable flashing signs. Thankfully these snapshots of legislators capture their patience and time to read the requester's name on the slips in order for us to finagle a position and briefly converse.
In reflecting about last week's CMTE and advocacy opportunity at the SC State House, I am grateful for the years of service that current and past music therapists have given to bring this topic closer to reality. The bravery of music therapy students and interns was remarkable! As one of the 8 music therapy professionals in attendance last week, I reluctantly asserted myself as a speaker amidst my advocacy trio. Our teamwork to network, take notes, photos and deliver remainder packets with more information on music therapy to the unavailable legislators was a tremendous feat!!
Since last Tuesday's events, the Senate passed the third reading of the bill. It is now awaiting a process of review in the House of Representatives and so begins the next phase of letter writing, contacting and visiting legislators.
As this week begins, I encourage you to better familiarize yourself with the individuals representing you and your local community, read more about this important issue as a creative and expressive arts modality is slowly gaining recognition as a pre-approved Medicaid service, and feel compelled to advocate for potential clients who could benefit from receiving music therapy from board certified and licensed professionals.
Providing music therapy services for early childhood to older adults, music instruction and continuing music therapy education in Greater Charlotte Area of the Carolinas