SSB 5488

This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.

C 118 L 15

Synopsis as Enacted

Brief Description: Concerning applied behavior analysis.

Sponsors: Senate Committee on Health Care (originally sponsored by Senators Keiser, Jayapal, Parlette and Cleveland).

Senate Committee on Health Care

House Committee on Health Care & Wellness

House Committee on Appropriations

Background: Central Washington University describes applied behavior analysis (ABA) as a systematic approach to the assessment and evaluation of behavior, and the application of interventions that alter behavior.

In 2014 the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) undertook a sunrise review of the behavior analyst profession. The sunrise review found that some of ABA provider requirements currently exist solely for insurance reimbursement for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other conditions. As a result, some providers have obtained counseling or other health care credentials to meet requirements of insurers who cover ABA services. Medicaid reimbursement requires a state license for medically necessary treatment of ASD and other developmental disorders. The Health Care Authority (HCA) and Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) regulations for ABA services include credentialing and referral requirements.

The sunrise review further found that the system provides some level of public protection for individuals using ABA services because the providers must meet minimum credentialing qualifications and are subject to background checks and regulatory oversight. However, private-pay clients of ABA providers do not have the same protections and there are waitlists to access ABA services because some qualified providers are limited from practicing.

DOH provided the following recommendations:

Summary: Three behavior analysis professions are established in Washington:

Scope of Practice. The practice of ABA includes:

The practice of ABA does not include psychological testing, diagnosis of mental or physical disorders, neuropsychology, psychotherapy, cognitive therapy, sex therapy, psychoanalysis, hypnotherapy, or counseling as treatment modalities.

No person may engage in the practice of ABA unless they are licensed. Those not licensed may not represent themselves as a licensed behavior analyst.

Licensure. Applicants for licensure must meet certain requirements.

For behavior analysts, requirements include the following:

For assistant behavior analysts, requirements include the following:

For certified behavior technicians, requirements include:

All three of the professions must demonstrate good moral character, not engage in unprofessional conduct, not be subject to disciplinary action, and be able to practice with reasonable skill.

Licenses are valid for two years.

A temporary license may be granted to a person who does not reside in Washington if they are licensed to practice ABA in another state or province of Canada. A temporary license holder may only practice for a limited period of time, as defined by the Secretary of DOH. A person holding a license in another state or province of Canada may receive a Washington license if the other state or province have substantially equivalent licensing standards.

This license does not prohibit or restrict the following:

Advisory Committee. A Washington State ABA advisory committee is established consisting of five members:

It is recommended that one of the advisory committee members be a licensed behavior analyst and have an additional mental health license, such as a psychiatrist.

The Secretary of DOH must consult the committee in determining the qualifications for licensure or certification.

Votes on Final Passage:








July 1, 2015July 24, 2015 (Sec. 4, 16)