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The National Voice of Clinical Social Work 

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Emergency Reciprocity and More - 3-31-20

31 Mar 2020 7:53 PM | CSWA Administrator (Administrator)

Things are changing rapidly to give people better access to mental health services. Here is some more information that affects LCSWs.

First, a correction. Maryland has not required coverage of telephonic sessions; Gov. Hogan was one of the first states to allow emergency reciprocity for LCSWs not licensed in Maryland. Apologies for the error.

Along these lines, many states have followed his example and are now allowing LCSWs to practice in states where they are not licensed, as long as they are licensed in at least one state. There are many variations so make sure to read the emergency declarations carefully.  The list helpfully created by Shrink Space can be found at https://theshrinkspace.blog/covid-19-teletherapy-across-state-lines/ . It is being updated daily.

Finally, sending a message like the one below to the President would be a good idea. You can send it to www.White House.gov.

I will be sending more information as it comes in. Let me know about any changes to practice in your state/jurisdiction.

“I am a constituent and a member of the Clinical Social Work Association. I have patients who are unable to meet with me in person for psychotherapy because of the COVID-19 crisis and do not have access to a smart phone or computer. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have not expanded coverage of psychotherapy to telephonic sessions, only videoconferencing; however, the only way I can provide services to these beneficiaries is by telephone. 

Some enlightened insurers like Cigna and Aetna have already allowed some temporary coverage of telephonic psychotherapy sessions.  Some states such as Texas, and Ohio have also required temporary coverage of telephonic psychotherapy sessions by private insurers.

Please tell CMS [and/or private insurers for state legislators and Insurance Commissioners] to approve coverage of telephonic psychotherapy sessions, sorely needed in these fraught times, for Medicare beneficiaries [and other enrollees privately insured] who may be isolated, emotionally fragile, and in need of mental health services."

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