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Governor Phil Scott, Secretary of State Jim Condos Announce Reforms to Address Vermont’s Substance Use Disorder Workforce Crisis

October 16, 2017

Montpelier, Vt. – At a press conference Monday, Governor Phil Scott, Secretary of State Jim Condos and Director of Professional Regulation Colin Benjamin announced reforms to the administrative rules governing Apprentice Addiction Professionals (AAPs), Alcohol and Drug Counselors (ADCs) and Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselors (LADCs).

The “strike-and-rewrite” replacement brings the administrative rules for these professions from 30 pages to 10, eliminating red tape and introducing efficiency, while maintaining high professional standards. Areas of focus include carefully defined core competencies, more relevant and inclusive degree and continuing education requirements, and compatibility with prevailing national standards.

“The opioid epidemic is one of the most serious challenges we face, and I appreciate the hard work of this group to assess and respond to the workforce needs of our treatment community with the sense of urgency this public health crisis deserves,” said Gov. Scott. “In just five months, a dedicated group of experts and professionals from the public, private and nonprofit sectors worked together to take an important step in addressing our substance use disorder workforce crisis, and they accomplished it in a way that makes Vermont an even more attractive and accessible place to work and live for the professionals we badly need.”

Reforms also focused on increasing efficiency of the program for both licensees and administrators. A key achievement was identifying and addressing a bottleneck for applicants under the existing clinical supervision policy.

“The challenge in this case was to maintain the high, statutory standards set out by the General Assembly while eliminating unnecessary barriers to entry,” said Director Benjamin. “By engaging with the brightest people in the field, we identified 12 core challenges providers are facing, and addressed each of those obstacles with this emergency rule filing.”

These reforms are the result of work by the Governor’s Opioid Coordination Council, created by Gov. Scott under Executive Order 02-17, the Office of Professional Regulation (OPR), and numerous providers, physicians and treatment professionals from throughout Vermont.

Changes were guided by feedback from professionals who participated in the Governor’s Summit on Vermont’s Substance Use Disorder Workforce. The Summit, held in partnership with the Vermont State Colleges System in April, focused on the workforce needs of the provider community.  

Improving licensing processes across professions has been a focus of Sec. Condos for several years, and following the April Summit he directed OPR to work with the Opioid Coordination Council and its partners to address the regulatory and licensing challenges of these professionals.

“The emergency rule changes we’ve filed demonstrate the enormous potential we realize when those in state government work together – and in partnership with the private sector and our colleges and universities – to improve processes and services to the people of Vermont,” said Sec. Condos. “This is what good government looks like, and I thank everyone for their contributions to this initiative.”

On Wednesday, October 4, the rules were filed with the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (LCAR) for emergency adoption. This approach cut the adoption timeline from almost ten months to a matter of days. They will be in place for 120-days while undergoing the standard proposed rule filing with the Interagency Committee on Administrative Rules (ICAR) and LCAR for permanent adoption.

Click here to view a summary of the changes made.

Click here to view the full emergency rule