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Legislative Alerts

CSWA Director of Legislation and Policy, Laura Groshong regularly provides Legislative/Regulatory Alerts to the membership to keep them informed about important legislation or regulations that have been introduced at the national level.  In addition to keeping members informed, the CSWA also monitors all current national legislation that affects clinical social workers and the need for action to members of Congress. The list of Legislative Alerts listed below allows members to review the history of CSWA action on national bills in Congress that affect clinical social workers and the outcomes of our actions.

  • 27 Oct 2016 7:08 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear CSWA Members,

    As you know, CSWA has been involved in the Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force (MHSUDPTF ) created in March, 2016, by President Obama. The goal of this Task Force is to look at the overall failure to enforce the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA).  The Rules for MHPAEA, which become the basis for enforcement, were not implemented until 2014.

    Today the MHSUDPTF issued its report.  In addition to the 34-page report that was released, there was a 20- page report for consumers about their rights to mental health and substance use treatment. Both are worth reading. The authors of the Report, in addition to the President, included Departments of Treasury, Defense, Justice, Labor, Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs, Office of Personnel Management, and Office of National Drug Control Policy. The comments submitted to the Task Force by CSWA can be found at the CSWA website (www.clinicalsocialworkassociation.org) .

    To find the Report go to http://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/mental-health-substance-use-disorder-parity-task-force-final-report.PDF

    To find the Consumer Guide go to http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content//SMA16-4992/SMA16-4992.pdf

    While this is not a complete answer to the problems that many CSWA members and our patients have faced with coverage, it is a help.  Remember that the Federal Government has oversight for ERISA – self-insured – plans. Private insurance plans, like Blue Cross, United, Aetna, etc., are overseen by the Insurance Commissioners in each state. This report only applies to ERISA plans, though it is likely to have an impact on private plans.

    Members may have a special interest in #4 of the Consumer Guide which addresses how usual and customary out of network reimbursement rates are determined and how they can be questioned.

    As always, please let  me know if you have any questions about these documents.

    Laura W. Groshong, LICSW, Director, Policy and Practice

    Clinical Social Work Association
    lwgroshong@clinicalsocialworkassociation.org

    CSWA - "The National Voice for Clinical Social Work"

    Strengthening IDENTITY, Preserving INTEGRITY, Advocating PARITY


  • 27 Sep 2016 3:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear CSWA Members,

    Mental Health First Aid Act (H.R. 1877) passed the House yesterday by voice vote.  This Act will be extended through 2021 through block grants to train first responders, law enforcement and teachers to assist anyone in a mental health crisis, and reduce stigma toward them.

    The bill will expand grant eligibility for the SAMHSA program to include programs to train veterans and law enforcement on how to recognize and respond to persons with mental illness. The program previously only focused on teachers and emergency responders.

    The Senate passed a similar bill (S. 1893) in January, 2016. The Senate version, introduced by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), focused on youth mental health services.

    The House and Senate hope to soon create a unified bill in conference they can send to the President Obama soon.

    LCSWs may have opportunities to help provide this training.  CSWA will provide more information as it is available.

    This is the first of several bills that CSWA hopes will increase access to mental health treatment and support services in the next few weeks.

    Laura W. Groshong, LICSW, Director, Policy and Practice

    Clinical Social Work Association
    lwgroshong@clinicalsocialworkassociation.org

    CSWA - "The National Voice for Clinical Social Work"

    Strengthening IDENTITY, Preserving INTEGRITY, Advocating PARITY


  • 07 Sep 2016 8:38 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Aware Advocate - 2016

    Changes to Medicare for LCSWs in 2017

    Laura Groshong, LICSW, Director of Policy and Practice

         As all CSWA members know, since 2012 LCSWs have been subject to the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) which has affected reimbursement rates in a cumbersome and difficult way for the past 5 years.  While the penalties that have been given for failure to comply with PQRS measures were relatively small (1-2% a year), the challenges of keeping track of the yearly changes to measures that LCSWs were supposed to report on have been a source off anxiety and frustration. 

        The good news is that for 2017 and 2018, LCSWs will not have to continue reporting PQRS measures.  The PQRS measures are being rolled in to a new plan called Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) which is part of the new Medicare formula for reimbursement, Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization ACT (MACRA) that replaced the very problematic Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR).

        Though all LCSWs are free of the new reporting systems for now, it may be helpful to understand the changes that are coming to physicians and may be applied to LCSWs in 2019.  They will apply to quality of care; cost of care; use of electronic record keeping; and activities that attempt to reduce the cost of care while improving quality in Medicaid.

    • -          Quality – measures that will be similar to PQRS measures and reported yearly
    • -          Resource Use – will require reporting on care given for high-cost conditions (including inpatient for depression) and the number of episodes required (formerly called Value-Based Patient Modifier Program, which did not apply to LCSWs, but may in future)
    • -          Advancing Care Information – encouraging the use of interoperable electronic record keeping (formerly called EHR)
    • -          Clinical Practice Improvement Activities – the least defined area, which is intended to identify ways to cut costs for Medicaid services

          The Quality measures for physicians and nurses in 2016 are currently defined as follows:

    • Anti-depressant medication management

    • Preventive care and screening: screening for clinical depression and follow-up plan

    • Elder maltreatment screen and follow-up plan

    • Dementia: cognitive assessment

    • Dementia: functional status assessment

    • Dementia: neuropsychiatric symptom assessment

    • Dementia: management of neuropsychiatric symptoms

    • Dementia: counseling regarding safety concerns

    • Dementia: caregiver education and support

    • Adult major depressive disorder (MDD): coordination of care of patients with specific comorbid conditions

    • Adherence to antipsychotic medications for individuals with schizophrenia

    • Follow-up after hospitalization for mental health conditions

    It is notable that Medicare describes the covered groups (physicians, nurses, physician assistants) as the “vast majority of behavioral health providers” in Medicare (http://www.thenationalcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/MACRA-Quality-PP-web-Final.pdf) .  There are 38,000 LCSWs that are currently Medicare providers, probably a much smaller group than the current number of primary care physicians and others providing psychotropic medication.

        Keep in mind that LCSWs are still required to submit PQRS information for 2016 and will receive a Medicare reimbursement deduction in 2018 for failure to comply with PQRS reporting; see CSWA website for 2015 measures which are the same as 2016 measures (http://www.clinicalsocialworkassociation.org/PQRS) .  

         In the meantime, look forward to some time off next year if you are a Medicare provider from the PQRS measures.  CSWA will continue to keep you informed about other changes to these reporting requirements.  

    Laura W. Groshong, LICSW, Director, Policy and Practice

    Clinical Social Work Association
    206-524-3690
    lwgroshong@clinicalsocialworkassociation.org
    Seattle, WA

    CSWA - "The National Voice for Clinical Social Work"

    Strengthening IDENTITY, Preserving INTEGRITY, Advocating PARITY


  • 02 Sep 2016 8:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear CSWA Affiliated Society Member,

    As you know from the numerous CSWA posts about the Senate mental health bill, S. 2680, the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016, this bill is the best option in terms of passing a real mental health plan that works. The House bill, HR 2646 is considerably weaker. S. 2680 creates the enforcement that the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act failed to implement. It will make psychotherapy available to the 50% of Americans who currently do not have access to treatment.

    Please send the following message to your senators at http://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/ BY TOMORROW, September 3. Apologies for the late notice but the strategy including rolling contacts by mental health associations and today is the day for CSWA to send our support.

    Dear Sen. ______:

    I am a constituent and a member of the Clinical Social Work Association, writing today to urge your Senate leadership to bring up S. 2680, the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016, for immediate consideration. This bill is the best option for giving the 68 million Americans who live with mental illness the help they need, including the 117 people who die every day by suicide. Mental health parity has failed to provide the equal coverage that it promised. Please vote for S. 2680 when it comes to the floor. Sincerely, [Your name, license, address, contact information]

    As always please let me know when you have sent your messages.

    Laura W. Groshong, LICSW, Director, Policy and Practice
    Clinical Social Work Association
    206-524-3690
    lwgroshong@clinicalsocialworkassociation.org
    Seattle, WA

    CSWA - "The National Voice for Clinical Social Work"
    Strengthening IDENTITY, Preserving INTEGRITY, Advocating PARITY


  • 08 Jul 2016 4:02 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear CSWA Members,

    You may have heard that hard on the heels of the passage of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2016, HR 2646, another bill related to clinical social work practice passed the House of Representatives today, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), S 524/HR 963.  

    This bill has great policy objectives including including prevention, treatment, recovery support, criminal justice reform, overdose reversal, and law enforcement which will help those with addictions, often in combination with mental health disorders.  Approximately 129 people die every day because of addictions. 

    The huge problem with the bill is that there is no additional funding for the increased benefits.  Those who supported the bill felt it was better to get a bill passed and worry about funding later, a strategic decision.  CSWA hopes that the strategy pays off and the bill will be more than a policy statement.  I wanted you to be aware of the pros and cons as you hear about CARA over the coming days and months


  • 06 Jul 2016 4:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear CSWA Members,

    Thanks to all the many CSWA members who sent their emails to their Representatives.

    Today the House of Representatives passed HR 2646 by an overwhelming majority of 422-2! 

    Please send the following message to your Representative, even if you did not ask your Representative to vote in favor of the bill:
    “I am a member of the Clinical Social Work Association and a constituent.  Thank you so much for voting in favor of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2016 which will improve access to mental health services for our citizens. [Name, License, Address, email]” 

    You can find your Representative's email at http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/ ; .

    Now we will wait to see what happens with the Senate bill and hopefully have a compromise committee to combine the best of both bills.


  • 01 Jul 2016 4:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear CSWA Members,

    On June 15th, HR 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2016, a bill that CSWA has been following for the past three years, unanimously passed out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

    This bill will be voted on by the whole House of Representatives next Tuesday, July 5.  Please email your representative as soon as possible.  It is very important to support this bill which will increase funding for many parts of the mental health system, create an Assistant Secretary of Mental Health in DHHS, and create a Minority Fellowship Program.  While there are other parts of the bill that CSWA would like to modify, getting the bill passed out of the House so that we can continue the discussion is crucial at the moment. The Senate mental health bill has also been passed out of committee and needs to be passed out of the Senate, but is not yet scheduled.  To get the Senate bill scheduled, the House bill must pass.

    You can find the email address of your Representative at http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/ . Please send the following message to your Representative: “I am a member of the Clinical Social Work Association and a Constituent.  Please vote for passage of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2016 on July 5 and improve access to mental health services for our citizens. [Name, License, Address, email]”

    As always, please let me know when you have emailed your message.


  • 20 Apr 2016 9:03 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear CSWA Members,

    CSWA received this message from the Association of Social Work Boards today and has requested that we send it to members.  To summarize, ASWB does a practice review of social work every 7-10 years and is beginning one now.  Approximately 250,000 of the 600,000 social workers in the country will receive a copy of the survey on social work practice.  Please participate if you receive this survey.

    Below is the message:

    I am writing on behalf of the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) to let you know that ASWB has launched its latest practice analysis of social work, the study of current social work practice that serves as the foundation for content included in the ASWB social work licensure examinations. Conducted every seven to ten years, the practice analysis begins with a survey of licensed social workers in the United States and Canada. The survey is designed to gather information about the knowledge and skills needed by those in the social work profession. It was sent to more than 250,000 licensed social workers, including social work practitioners and educators, earlier this month.

    We are contacting your organization to let you know what was happening and to encourage you to  forward to ASWB any questions or concerns you might receive from your members about the survey.  

    To explain more fully, the survey requires social workers to respond to statements about tasks that social workers perform (or do not perform) or about the knowledge that social workers need to perform those tasks safely and competently. All responses are confidential and will be combined with those from other social workers responding to the survey. Additional information on the process—including the results of the last practice analysis conducted by ASWB—may be found at www.aswb.org.  

    ASWB remains committed to producing a valid and reliable social work licensing examination, and we are excited about the next chapter in its development. We look forward to the responses from the practice analysis survey.

    Thank you for your commitment to our profession and the public it serves.

    Lavina G. Harless, LCSW
    Examination Development Manager
    Association of Social Work Boards


  • 11 Apr 2016 2:47 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear CSWA Members,

    The attached "Statement on Discrimination” is CSWA’s way of addressing the appalling legislative attempts in several states to create laws that implement discrimination against LGBT citizens. While only four states have passed legislation – North Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Georgia – have actually passed such legislation, there are several other states considering doing so.

    As stated in the CSWA Code of Ethics, “Clinical social workers do not, in any of their capacities, practice, condone, facilitate, or collaborate with any form of discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status, or physical or emotional disability. (CSWA Code of Ethics, Section VI(a), 1997.)” It is with these fundamental values in mind that CSWA encourages its members to take a stand against discrimination in any form. 

    If you live in one of the states that has passed a discriminatory law, please send the following message to your state and Federal legislators: “I am a member of the Clinical Social Work Association [and your state Society] which strongly opposes any laws which are based on discrimination. [Bill/Law in your state] is extremely discriminatory of our LGBT citizens and should be removed from [our laws/consideration] in our state. This law is a violation of my Code of Ethics as a clinical social worker and our national Bill of Rights.”

     You can find the addresses for your members of Congress at https://www.congress.gov/members  State legislators can be found at your state government websites.

    As always, please let me know when you have sent any messages.

    Laura Groshong, LICSW, CSWA Director, Policy and Practice


  • 17 Mar 2016 9:59 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear CSWA Affiliated Society Members,

        Yesterday the HELP Committee (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) passed S. 2680, the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016. CSWA sent a summary of this bill last week and is in support.  The bill was introduced by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Chris Murphy (D-CT), this bipartisan legislation provides vital reforms to mental health funding to increase patients’ access to effective and evidence-based care particularly focused to those with serious mental illness (SMI).  

        S. 2680 incorporates and builds upon S. 1945, the bill created last year by Sens. Murphy and Cassidy. Here is a summary of the bill:

    • Supporting SAMHSA by establishing a new Inter-Departmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee.
    • Creating an Assistant Secretary of Mental Health position to give mental health a higher administrative level.
    • Significantly improving grant programs promoting integration of primary and behavioral health care.
    • Clarifying disclosure of protected health information (PHI) under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and requirements for communication between providers, patients, and families.

        There is more work to do but this is a significant step forward.  Clinical social workers are included in S. 2680 as covered providers several times, as they were in the House bill H.R.1945 in 2014 after CSWA, with NASW’s support, first raised the issue of including LCSWs.  Whatever bill emerges from the mental health bills being considered by Congress, the place of clinical social workers appears secure.


    Laura Groshong, LICSW, CSWA Director, Policy and Practice



PO Box 10, Garrisonville, Virginia  22463 | 202-203-9350 | administrator@clinicalsocialworkassociation.org

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