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CSWA - Legislative Alert - Section 123 - 2-25-21

26 Feb 2021 10:05 AM | CSWA Administrator (Administrator)

You may have been hearing about part of a new law called Section 123 contained in the 1,000-page Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (CAA) at the very end of 2020.  This Section requires all mental health clinicians who are working virtually to see their patients at least once every six months in-person, once the Public Health Emergency (PHE) ends.

Meeting in-person would of course be dangerous in the time of COVID which is why we are working through videoconferencing and audio only in the first place.  There has been a lot of concern about the implementation of Section 123.  An article from the law firm of Foley and Lardner about Section123 is being circulated which is somewhat inaccurate, as it does not highlight the start of Section 123 only when the PHE ends. Here is what CSWA believes Section 123 means at this point:

  • The in-person requirement does not go into effect until AFTER HHS declares the Public Health Emergency has ended, which at this point is April 20, 2021, unless extended. 
  • Applying this rule solely to mental health treatment and no other medical services violates the mental health parity law.   
  • Inserting this rule into an appropriations law that has nothing to do with mental health treatment is duplicitous and misguided.

Please know that CSWA is working in collaboration with the American Psychological Association to eliminate this section.  A bill is being drafted and we are confident that Section 123 can be changed.

CSWA will also work to find out why HHS inserted this section into the CAA and will let you know what we find.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

Laura Groshong, Director, Policy and Practice

PO Box 10
Garrisonville, Virginia  22463

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