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The National Voice of Clinical Social Work 

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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.

  • 09 Jan 2017 1:43 PM | CSWA Administrator (Administrator)

    CSWA was honored to be invited with other members of the Mental Health Liaison Group to attend a meeting about the fate of the Affordable Care Act last Friday.  We were represented at the 2-hour meeting by our superb MHLG Delegate, Margot Aronson, LICSW, Deputy Director of Policy and Practice, along with representatives from American Psychological Association, Mental Health America, Families USA, NASW, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – altogether nearly 50 health and mental health stakeholders. 

    Minority Leader Pelosi opened with her conviction that a strong and immediate grass roots effort can prevent the “Repeal and Replace Later” plan that is moving to a vote.  There is no question that Repeal without a reasonable replacement will jeopardize coverage in current plans and throw the insurance market into chaos; a responsible approach to repeal would be to wait until a replacement plan has been developed, reviewed, and accepted. The great majority of Americans have indicated a preference for this approach: more than 49% want to keep the ACA (Kaiser Foundation) with some changes to improve coverage. 

    Representing CSWA, Margot spoke to the significant savings in healthcare and safety net costs down the road when mental health and substance abuse treatment are finally accessible and affordable when needed.

    We need to show legislators how ACA coverage “prevented my family from losing our home because of a medical crisis”; how “a life-saving treatment was out of reach before the ACA but now I’m in full recovery and back at work”; and how “I was terrified if I got sick before I had ACA coverage” .  Such stories – especially from constituents - resonate with members of Congress.  Please gather these stories if you can and be prepared to send them soon.

    Another email follows this one about what to do right now.  We hope you are glad that CSWA is participating in the effort to protect health insurance (including mental health treatment!) for 30 million citizens through the ACA.

    Laura W. Groshong, LICSW, Director, Policy and Practice
    Clinical Social Work Association

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

  • 17 Dec 2016 7:47 PM | CSWA Administrator (Administrator)

    I am delighted to inform you that Margot Aronson, LICSW, CSWA Deputy Director of Policy and Practice and CSWA Vice-Chair of the Government Relations Committee, has been elected to the Mental Health Liaison Group Board of Directors.

    MHLG is the premier mega-coalition nationally of mental health groups, having over 70members and affiliates. Margot has graciously and articulately presented CSWA’s positions on a wide variety of topics at MHLG for the past 10 years, building many relationships that have helped CSWA become an influential voice in this major mental health network. This dovetails well with the lobbying work that Margot and I do on behalf of CSWA with members of Congress, the White House, DHHS, CMS, and many other federal bodies that affect clinical social work practice. Congratulations, Margot!

    On a related note, Margot and I ask everyone to take the 2017 Advocacy Survey which will help us develop CSWA priorities for advocacy work in 2017. There are many potential threats to our ability to provide clinical social work services and we need your help to make these almost impossible choices of where to put our energy. If you have already taken the Survey, thank you. If not, please do so by December 28 at

    As we face a difficult time for our country and clinical social work, CSWA is here to make sure our voices are heard.

    We wish you happy and fulfilling holidays.

    Laura Groshong, LICSW, Director of Policy and Practice

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

  • 09 Dec 2016 5:49 PM | CSWA Administrator (Administrator)

    We have no doubt that the incoming administration will make changes in policies,laws, and regulations affecting clinical social workers and our clients. It is possible that some changes will make for long needed improvements.  Others, however, may make it difficult for individuals needing mental health or substance use treatment to obtaincare.  Some may conflict with the ethical principles set out in our Code of Ethics.  Still others could affect the cost of insurance, our reimbursement rates and the viability of our agencies and small businesses.

    Even though the changes we anticipate now will be shifting and evolving as the new administration takes shape, CSWA is trying to begin formulating our strategy for advocacy.

    The major areas below - based only what we have heard so far during the campaign and transition - are designed to provide context for considering how changes might affect our practices and our patients in the Trump administration. CSWA wants to hear from our members about which issues are of most concern in these areas.     

    You can access the Survey at . Please identify the two issues that cause you the most concern in each area, and add other concerns at the survey using this link by December 28.  The results will be made available after January 1, 2017.

    • THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT (“Obamacare”)

    Thanks for your help in developing CSWA’s Legislative Agenda in 2017.

    Laura W. Groshong, LICSW, Director, Policy and Practice
    Clinical Social Work Association

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

  • 16 Nov 2016 2:24 PM | CSWA Administrator (Administrator)

    Dear CSWA Affiliated Society Members,

    Thank you so much for the many messages that have already been sent to the Trump Transition Team.  Margot Aronson and Laura Groshong greatly appreciate your letting them know when you have sent your message.  If you have not yet done so, send your message as soon as possible; let Margot and Laura know when you have.

    Many Society members who are not CSWA members have asked how they can help besides sending this message.  One way to help is to join CSWA.  As an independent organization, CSWA relies on individual members to continue our work. 

    If you are a member of the Societies that underwrite CSWA dues, you can take advantage of the way that these Societies have defrayed the cost of joining CSWA for their members.  Instead of $100 dues, the cost is $35.

    If you would like to have your Society offer this discounted rate, please have your leadership contact Karen Hansen, CSWA Society Liaison, at .

    We must make our voices as clinical social workers heard.  Join us in standing up for social justice and access to mental health treatment!


    Melissa, Johnson, LCSW, President
    Clinical Social Work Association

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

  • 14 Nov 2016 10:55 PM | CSWA Administrator (Administrator)

    Certain statements made by President-elect Trump during the campaign for the presidency have been at odds with the Code of Ethics (2016) of the Clinical Social Work Association.  Cultural competence and social justice are fundamental principles underlying the work clinical social workers do to improve the mental health and daily lives of everyone. Here are key concepts from the CSWA Code of Ethics:

    II.5.a)      The social work profession has a strong commitment to social justice. As such, clinical social workers shall strive to maintain awareness, knowledge, and skills with regard to cultural competence and its influence on human behavior and society. 

    II.5.c)     Clinical social workers shall seek to become culturally competent and understand the effects of trauma caused by institutional and individual oppression with respect to race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, and mental or physical disability. 

    VI. a)       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, gender identity, gender expression, age, socioeconomic status, or physical or emotional disability.

    We believe that without adherence to these principles, our country will remain divided and polarized.  Economic prosperity alone cannot overcome beliefs that condemn or reject some citizens based on ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or other differences.

    CSWA will continue to take an active role in support of legislation that would benefit the mental health community through our participation in the Mental Health Liaison Group and our advocacy on the Hill.  We will continue to work with members of Congress on legislation that affects our patients and clinical social work practice.

    CSWA urges all clinical social workers to participate in a broad grass roots effort to make the President-elect aware of our views. We need to let Mr. Trump know that we expect him to respect and protect the freedoms and rights of all Americans.  Here is some suggested language, but we encourage everyone to express what is most important to them:

    “I am a licensed clinical social worker in [your state]. I am concerned about troubling comments made by Mr. Trump during the campaign based on ethnicity, race, and religion. Our professional Code of Ethics does not condone any discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, socioeconomic status, or physical or emotional disability. I ask that your transition team develop policies that include respect for all our citizens as guaranteed by our Constitution. [Name, Title, Address, Email Address]” 

     Visit his transition team website and tell him your concerns.  The stronger the grassroots presence we establish now, the better we will be better able to confront problems as they arise. 

    CSWA would like to hear from all clinical social workers who send a message to the transition team.  Please contact Laura Groshong, CSWA Director of Policy and Practice, or Margot Aronson, CSWA Deputy Director of Policy and Practice, at when you have sent your message.

  • 27 Oct 2016 7:08 PM | CSWA Administrator (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 ( .

    To find the Report go to

    To find the Consumer Guide go to

    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

    CSWA - "The National Voice for Clinical Social Work"

    Strengthening IDENTITY, Preserving INTEGRITY, Advocating PARITY

  • 27 Sep 2016 3:30 PM | CSWA Administrator (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

    CSWA - "The National Voice for Clinical Social Work"

    Strengthening IDENTITY, Preserving INTEGRITY, Advocating PARITY

  • 07 Sep 2016 8:38 PM | CSWA Administrator (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 ( .  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 ( .  

         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
    Seattle, WA

    CSWA - "The National Voice for Clinical Social Work"

    Strengthening IDENTITY, Preserving INTEGRITY, Advocating PARITY

  • 02 Sep 2016 8:40 PM | CSWA Administrator (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 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
    Seattle, WA

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

  • 08 Jul 2016 4:02 PM | CSWA Administrator (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

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