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The National Voice of Clinical Social Work 

Strengthening IDENTITY  | Preserving INTEGRITYAdvocating PARITY

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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.

  • 25 Jun 2020 2:29 PM | CSWA Administrator (Administrator)


    A hearing for about 20 mental health bills in the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee was scheduled yesterday on June 30.  Unfortunately, the bill that CSWA has been sponsoring for about 7 years in various forms, H.R. 1533, has not been included in the bills to be heard.  This is the bill that would increase Medicare reimbursement to LCSWs and allow us to again work independently in skilled nursing facilities.

    We need an all-out effort to get the bill included.  Please send the following message to your representative, ESPECIALLY if they are on the E&C Committee.  To check whether you representative is on the Committee, go to https://energycommerce.house.gov/about-ec/membership . Feel free to send messages to other members of the Committee as well.

    Dear Rep. ___________,

    I am a constituent and a member of the Clinical Social Work Association.

    Please consider adding HR 1533 to the agenda for the Energy and Commerce Hearing on June 30.  This bill, Improving Access to Mental Health Act, would greatly improve the access of Medicare beneficiaries to mental health services provided by clinical social workers.  As the largest group of mental health providers in the country, clinical social workers are currently a key part of the treatment of behavioral disorders in Medicare and across the country.

    I notice that HR 945, which addresses mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists, is included in this hearing, a sister bill to HR 1533.  The goals of these bills are similar, to allow Master’s level mental health clinicians to provide independent services in skilled nursing facilities and give beneficiaries much needed access to mental health services. Currently, HR 945 does not include clinical social workers.  It would make sense to include all Master’s level mental health providers at this hearing.

    Thank you for your attention to HR 1533.

    Sincerely,
    [your name, license, email]

    CSWA appreciates your help and continued partnership. As always please let me know when you have sent your messages.

    Laura Groshong, LICSW, Director, Policy and Practice
    www.clinicalsocialworkassociation.org

  • 23 Jun 2020 11:05 AM | CSWA Administrator (Administrator)

    On June 16, President Trump issued an Executive Order, “Safe Policing for Safe Communities”, to begin to law enforcement reform.  While it is not as strong as CSWA would wish, it is a start. In the spirit of collaboration on this crucial topic, CSWA has written a response to the Order. 

    To ensure clinical social work ideas get included in the discussion we hope the Order will generate, please send the attached document to all your members of Congress, and state legislators with the following message:

    “I am a member of the Clinical Social Work Association (CSWA) and a constituent. The President’s recent Executive Order, “Safe Policing for Safe Communities”, is of great interest to us, as clinical social workers.  We offer some suggestions about how to implement the goals of the Order, which we have been working on for decades.  Please let me know if there is any way we can help further this discussion.” 

    Click here to find emails for members of Congress.

    As always, let me know when you have contacted your legislators.

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

  • 16 Jun 2020 1:05 AM | CSWA Administrator (Administrator)

    The Aware Advocate

    Laura Groshong, LICSW, Director of Policy and Practice

    June 15, 2020

    The Supreme Court issued a wonderful decision today, BOSTOCK v. CLAYTON COUNTY, GEORGIA, today that guarantees LGBTQ citizens to have the right to work regardless of their sexual orientation or gender.  This decision holds that an employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII. CSWA is in complete support of equal rights for LGBTQ people and we are delighted at this decision.  It is notable that the majority decision was issued by Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was widely seen as having conservative views that might have made him unlikely to lead this decision.  To read the complete decision go to https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/19pdf/17-1618_hfci.pdf .

    In an incredible and terrible coincidence, HHS issued a rule last Friday that undoes an Obama-administration policy that had redefined “sex” to include “gender identity” and “termination of pregnancy” for purposes of nondiscrimination under the Affordable Care Act.

    Section 1557 of Obamacare prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in health-related programs or activities. Near the end of President Obama’s second term, his HHS Department released a regulation redefining “sex” for the purposes of Section 1557 to include “gender identity” and “termination of pregnancy.” As a result of the rule that HHS released, that regulation has been reversed and “sex” once again refers only to biological sex.  This entire new rule may be found at https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2020/06/12/hhs-finalizes-rule-section-1557-protecting-civil-rights-healthcare.html  This rule will almost certainly be challenged, especially in light of the Supreme Court decision today.

    Finally to end on a more positive note, please read the CSWA statement on “Stopping Aggression in our Communities” by CSWA President Britni Brown at https://www.clinicalsocialworkassociation.org/Announcements/9010566 CSWA will be doing many webinars and statements to address the ways that black lives are demeaned, attacked, and harmed.

    Another article that calls attention to these issues by Linda Michaels, PhD, Co-Chair of the Psychotherapy Advocacy Network (PsiAN) is ”@Whatsinahashtag@We’reallinthistogether?” which can be found at https://medium.com/@psian/whats-in-a-hashtag-we-reallinthistogether-7928adf5d756?sk=9276106ac0a81675e27e67f54751a8f8  It succinctly and heartbreakingly illustrates the ways that black Chicagoans have had decades of inferior public services, culminating in a much higher incidence of death among black citizens. 

    Stay safe and well in these perilous times.

     

    Laura Groshong, LICSW, Director, Policy and Practice

    www.clinicalsocialworkassociation.org

    Clinical Social Work Association
    The National Voice of Clinical Social Work


  • 31 Mar 2020 3:44 PM | CSWA Administrator (Administrator)

    It was a pleasure to ‘meet’ with many of you virtually this weekend about the changes to our practices in the time of COVID-19 which has restricted our in-office practices.  I hope the discussions about how to move to telemental health, the confusion regarding coverage by insurers and how to code for our services, and many other issues were helpful to you.

    One of the topics we talked about was advocacy to get Medicare – as well as private insurers – to cover telephonic sessions.  To accomplish this goal we will need an all-out effort, not just to CMS and HHS, but to members of Congress, state legislators, and state Insurance Commissioners. Use your own words to convey the following message:

    “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 temporary coverage of telephonic psychotherapy sessions.  Some states such as Maryland, 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."

    You can find contact information for members of Congress at https://www.house.gov/representatives and https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm .  You can find email addresses for your state legislators and Insurance Commissioners by going to your state websites.

    Finally, send a letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma and HHS Secretary Alex Azar at the addresses below:

    The Honorable Seema Verma

    Secretary Administrator

    U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

    200 Independence Avenue, S.W. 200 Independence Avenue, S.W.

    Washington, D.C. 20201 Washington, D.C. 20201

     

    The Honorable Alex Azar  

    Secretary

    U.S. Department of Health & Human Services  

    200 Independence Avenue, S.W. 200 Independence Avenue, S.W.

    Washington, D.C. 20201

     

    This is a lot of work, but we need to help the millions of patients who have lost their ability to get psychotherapy because they cannot get coverage for telephone sessions.

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

    Stay healthy and let me know if you have any other questions.

    Laura Groshong, LICSW, Director, Policy and Practice

    www.clinicalsocialworkassociation.org

    Clinical Social Work Association
    The National Voice of Clinical Social Work
    Strengthening IDENTITY | Preserving INTEGRITY | Advocating PARITY

  • 22 Mar 2020 2:00 PM | CSWA Administrator (Administrator)

    A bill for Phase 3 Emergency Relief of COVID-19 is due to be passed TODAY.

    Unfortunately, it does not include the needed coverage of telephonic sessions through Medicare. 

    Please send the following message to your members of Congress: "I am a member of the Clinical Social Work Association and a constituent.  I have patients who are unable to meet with me for psychotherapy because of the COVID-19 crisis and do not have access to a smart phone or computer. The only way I can provide services to them is by telephone.  Please approve coverage of telephonic psychotherapy sessions, sorely needed in these fraught times."

    You can find contact information at https://www.house.gov/representatives and  https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm .

    Thanks for your help and as always, let me know when you have sent messages.

    Laura Groshong, LICSW, Director, Policy and Practice
    www.clinicalsocialworkassociation.org

  • 05 Mar 2020 11:57 AM | CSWA Administrator (Administrator)

    As you know, CSWA has been calling attention to the unethical and damaging practice of ICE and ORR asking therapists to violate the privacy of minor immigrants.

    Thanks to the many letters sent to members of Congress by CSWA members and others and the letter sent by the Mental Health Liaison Group, which CSWA signed, Congress is taking action to stop these egregious actions.  Today the Washington Post published an article describing the ways in which Congress intends to stop this practice which can be found at https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/bill-would-end-practice-of-using-confidential-therapy-notes-against-detained-migrant-children/2020/03/04/0ab73d52-5e46-11ea-9055-5fa12981bbbf_story.html

    The MHLG letter which was sent to Congress can be found at https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2020/02/confidentiality-immigration-letter.pdf .

    CSWA will keep you apprised of the progress of bills which will prevent confidentiality violations as it evolves.

    This is very good news!

  • 18 Feb 2020 7:32 PM | CSWA Administrator (Administrator)

    Dear CSWA Members,

    In addition to the letters to your members of Congress about the confidentiality violations of immigrant minors, there is now a petition that CSWA members can sign to let the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and  Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) know that we oppose these unethical practices.

    The petition is sponsored by the Psychotherapy Action Network (PsiAN) which CSWA has been working with for several years. To sign the petition go to https://www.thepetitionsite.com/379/862/396/tell-orr-and-ice-stop-using-psychotherapy-notes-to-betray-and-endanger-children/

    Thanks to all of you who have already notified your members of Congress. 

    Laura Groshong, LICSW, Director, Policy and Practice, Chair, Government Relations Committee

    Clinical Social Work Association
    The National Voice of Clinical Social Work

  • 18 Feb 2020 7:29 PM | CSWA Administrator (Administrator)

    The Washington Post article (see below) sent to you yesterday on the confidentiality violation of migrant children in detention has generated many responses and a call for what we can do to stand up for LCSW ethical standards.

    CSWA recommends sending the following message to your members of Congress.  You can find their email addresses or contact information at https://www.congress.gov/members?searchResultViewType=expanded&KWICView=false

    A suggested message is as follows:

    “I am a constituent and a member of the Clinical Social Work Association.  Please take action to end the way that immigrant minors being held in detention have no right to confidentiality when seeing a clinical social worker for psychotherapy.  This fundamental ethical principle of psychotherapy is currently being violated by the Office of Refugee Resettlement according to the Washington Post (see article at https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/national/immigration-therapy-reports-ice/?utm_campaign=wp_evening_edition&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_evening ) .  The process of psychotherapy becomes potentially traumatic without the right to confidentially. I would be happy to discuss this with you further.

    Please feel free to use your own language in this message.  Contact me if you have questions or need more information.  As always, let me know when you have sent your messages. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

    Laura Groshong, LICSW, Director, Policy and Practice, Government Relations Chair


    Dear CSWA Members,

    The abuse of immigrant minors continues.  This article from the Washington Post details how a 17-year-old who was seen by a therapist while in detention and then had his confidentiality violated with serious emotional consequences. 


    The article is called "Trust and Consequences", written by Hannah Drier, and was published on February 15, 2020.  You can find it at https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/national/immigration-therapy-reports-ice/?utm_campaign=wp_evening_edition&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_evening  


    CSWA's commitment to confidentiality includes anyone who is seen by an LCSW.  We condemn this act and will continue to work for the right to privacy of all clients



  • 17 Feb 2020 7:31 PM | CSWA Administrator (Administrator)

    Dear CSWA Members,

    The abuse of immigrant minors continues.  This article from the Washington Post details how a 17-year-old who was seen by a therapist while in detention and then had his confidentiality violated with serious emotional consequences.

    The article is called "Trust and Consequences", written by Hannah Drier, and was published on February 15, 2020.  You can find it at https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/national/immigration-therapy-reports-ice/?utm_campaign=wp_evening_edition&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_evening  

    CSWA's commitment to confidentiality includes anyone who is seen by an LCSW.  We condemn this act and will continue to work for the right to privacy of all clients



  • 29 Jan 2020 10:42 PM | CSWA Administrator (Administrator)

    Dear CSWA Members,

    I have been hearing from members who have had trouble communicating with Noridian, the Medicare Administrator for much of western United States. This post is to gather information about how widespread this problem is.

    Please let me know the following if you have had any of the following difficulties in the past three months:

    1. Mistakes on EOBs which cannot be corrected

    2. Inability to get a person to talk to about EOBs or other problems

    3. Wait times of more than 20 minutes

    4. Being disconnected while on hold

    Please respond by February 2. Thanks for your help. Once I have more data I will contact CMS about the problem.

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