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  • Monday, April 19, 2021 11:11 PM | Jodi Hogue (Administrator)

    Good news on the Medicare fee-for-service sequestration front!  The 2% cut which was scheduled for April 14, 2021, has been suspended until December 31, 2021.  See the announcement from CMS below:

    The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act suspended the sequestration payment adjustment percentage of 2% applied to all Medicare Fee-for-Service (FFS) claims from May 1 through December 31, 2020.  The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, extended the suspension period to March 31, 2021. An Act to Prevent Across-the-Board Direct Spending Cuts, and for Other Purposes, signed into law on April 14, 2021, extends the suspension period to December 31, 2021.

    Medicare Administrative Contractors will:

    • Release any previously held claims with dates of service on or after April 1
    • Reprocess any claims paid with the reduction applied

    For more information, go to https://www.cms.gov/outreach-and-educationoutreachffsprovpartprogprovider-partnership-email-archive/2021-04-16-mlnc#_Toc69394754


  • Wednesday, April 14, 2021 4:46 PM | Jodi Hogue (Administrator)

    You have already received information on Open Notes, which is part of the CURES Act.  There is another section which is called Information Blocking, which has eight reasons for not giving patients access to their Medical Records.  Here is a summary of the two concepts for your information.

    Disclosure of Patient Information – Open Notes and Information Blocking

    There are now two additional HIPAA considerations when disclosing patient information: Open Notes and Information Blocking.

    Open Notes builds on the right of patients to have access to their medical record. On 2 November 2020, new federal rules will implement the bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act that, in part, “. . . promotes patient access to their electronic health information, supports provider needs, advances innovation, and addresses industry-wide information blocking practices.” The rules forbid health care organizations, information technology vendors, and others from restricting patients’ access to their electronic health care data, or “information blocking”, except for the eight reasons that Information Blocking allows. Although the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act gave patients the legal right to review their medical records, the new ruling goes further by giving them the right to access their electronic health records rapidly and conveniently via secure online portals. Providers must share not only test results, medication lists, and referral information but also the notes written by clinicians. Over the past decade, this practice innovation—known as “open notes”— has spread widely, and today more than 50 million patients in the United States are offered access to their clinical notes."  (https://www.opennotes.org/research/new-u-s-law-mandates-access-to-clinical-notes-implications-for-patients-and-clinicians/)

    Information Blocking outlines the information in the medical record which can be “blocked” from disclosure to the patient.  There are eight reasons for engaging in information blocking: to prevent harm to the patient; to comply with state regulations on privacy; to comply with state regulations on security; infeasibility, e.g., natural disaster prevents sharing medical record; when medical records are unavailable due to electronic maintenance or other reasons; lack of interoperability with patient electronic systems; inability of patient to pay agreed-upon fees to access their record; and delays due to the organization licensed to provide the medical record (https://journal.ahima.org/understanding-the-eight-exceptions-to-information-blocking/)


  • Friday, March 19, 2021 8:19 PM | Jodi Hogue (Administrator)

    CSWA is pleased to send you the announcement from Sen.  Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY),  and Rep Barbara Lee (D-CA) about the re-introduction of the Improving Access to Mental Health Act of 2021

    This may be the year that this bill is finally passed with the exponential increase in mental health needs due to the COVID pandemic.  See the text of the announcement below.

    Please send the following message to your members of Congress, using your own words if you wish, at https://www.congress.gov/members?q={%22congress%22:117}&searchResultViewType=expanded :

    “I am a member of the Clinical Social Work Association and a constituent.  Please consider becoming a co-sponsor of the Improving Access to Mental Health Act of 2021.  As a clinical social worker, I have been working twice as hard during the pandemic, learning to work through telemental health, and handle a substantially increased caseload.  However, I am still being paid 25% less by Medicare than other mental health clinicians. I need your help to give clinical social workers, the backbone of the mental health treatment community, fair compensation and recognition of the way we are helping to maintain the mental health of our citizens.  Thanks for your consideration.”

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

    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

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    March 18, 2021
    Eliza Duckworth (Stabenow)
    Eliza_Duckworth@Stabenow.senate.gov

    Barrasso Press Office (Barrasso)
    Press@barrasso.senate.gov

    Sean Ryan (Lee)
    Sean.Ryan@mail.house.gov


    Senators Stabenow, Barrasso and Representative Lee Introduce Bill to Increase Seniors’ Access to Behavioral Health Services

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), John Barrasso (R-WY) and U.S. Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA-13) today reintroduced their bill to increase seniors’ access to behavioral health services. The Improving Access to Mental Health Act of 2021 would ensure clinical social workers can provide their full range of services to Medicare beneficiaries and increase the Medicare program’s reimbursement rate for clinical social workers, aligning it with that of other non-physician providers.

    “Increased stress and isolation during the COVID-19 crisis has resulted in an urgent need for behavioral health services, especially among our seniors,” said Senator Stabenow. “Seniors should be able to receive care from the provider of their choice, and this bill ensures that clinical social workers are among those providers.”

    “As a doctor, I know how vital it is for seniors to have access to mental health services,” said Senator Barrasso. “In particular, for those living in rural communities, finding a mental health provider is challenging. This is why I am proud to support bipartisan solutions that help more patients get the care they need.” 

    “As a former psychiatric social worker, I know the critical high-quality mental health services and care social workers provide in our communities,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “Especially during a pandemic impacting the mental health of many, it is critical that we ensure Medicare beneficiaries have access to the essential mental health services provided by clinical social workers on a daily basis. I’m proud to join fellow social worker Senator Debbie Stabenow in reintroducing this critical bill and working to expand mental health services for all.”

    The Improving Access to Mental Health Act of 2021 would increase the Medicare payment reimbursement rate for clinical social workers from 75 percent to 85 percent of the physician fee schedule. This would align Medicare payments for clinical social workers with that of other non-physician providers such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants. This new payment structure would incentivize trained and licensed professionals to care for more seniors in their communities. The bill also ensures clinical social workers can provide psychosocial services to patients in nursing homes, and the full range of Health and Behavior Assessment and Intervention (HBAI) services within their scope of practice.

    The Improving Access to Mental Health Act of 2021 is supported by Aging Life Care Association, American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, Clinical Social Work Association, Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy, Council on Social Work Education, Gerontological Society of America, National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors, National Association of Social Workers, National Association for Rural Mental Health, the International OCD Foundation, and the Jewish Federations of North America.

    “There is great need and a demand for mental health and behavioral health services due to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially among individuals of color and underserved communities who are disproportionately impacted,” said Angelo McClain, PhD, LICSW, NASW Chief Executive Officer. “This legislation ensures a sufficient number of clinical social workers will be there to provide much-needed support and services to Medicare beneficiaries.”

    For years, Senator Stabenow has been a champion for increasing access to behavioral health and addiction services. She created a new permanent funding system through the creation of Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, which provide a comprehensive set of high-quality behavioral health services. Her bipartisan Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act secured the most significant expansion of community mental health and addiction services in decades.


  • Friday, March 19, 2021 8:08 PM | Jodi Hogue (Administrator)

    The Atlanta Mass Murder of
    Asian Women: CSWA Response

    3/19/21

    Kendra Roberson, LICSW, PhD, CSWA President

    Laura Groshong, LICSW, CSWA Director, Policy and Practice

    Anti-Asian hate crimes have spiked over 1900% since March of 2020 (MSNBC, 3/16/21) placing the tragic Atlanta murders in a historical context that has supported violence against Asians, and notably Asian women since the late 1800s. (TIME, https://news.yahoo.com/atlanta-shootings-fit-long-legacy-110100656.html ) Chair of the Social Work Department at Seattle University, Hye-Kyung Kang writes “Asian American women are particularly vulnerable and targeted due to the triple jeopardy of racism, colonialism and misogyny. (https://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/racist-colonialist-and-misogynist-narrative-abets-violence-against-asian-women/) Correspondingly, journalist Elise Hu writes “This Atlanta tragedy lies at an intersection of race, gender, class and the legacy of America’s history of colonization and violence in Asia.” (Ibid, TIME.)

    In a Seattle Times Op-Ed, University of Washington’s Associate Dean for Faculty Excellence at the School of Social Work, David Takeuchi notes the mental health impact of hate crimes on our communities. He emphasized the need for policymakers to “create more ways for people to report such incidents and to increase awareness of why reporting is necessary”. He also places these incidents in a geo-political context citing the tensions between the U.S. and China as a catalyst for people to “act on their prejudices”. (https://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/ending-anti-asian-violence-requires-urgent-action-at-all-levels/)

    There is no way to make sense of the horrific slaughter of six women, but as clinical social workers we strongly promote the need to see our friends, family, clients, co-workers, students, etc. from intersectional identity perspectives, to support the continued struggle for racial equality, and to rail against Anti-Asian hate and white supremacy in all its forms.  

    As clinical social workers, our hearts break for the victims of this senseless, hate-filled crime. We stand in solidarity with the families of those whose lives have been lost and for those who live in fear that they too could be victimized.


  • Tuesday, March 16, 2021 2:05 AM | Jodi Hogue (Administrator)

    We are delighted to inform you that we will be working with the US Depa­­­­­­rtment of Defense, National Center of Interstate Compacts and other key social work stakeholders to establish clinical social work reciprocity across states.  This effort has become increasingly important as we work utilizing telemental health; the requirement that we be licensed in the state where the patient is located is burdensome and amounts to restraint of trade.

    Below is the message that CSWA received today from the US Department of Defense:

    We are excited to inform you that the U.S. Department of Defense has selected your profession to receive technical assistance from The Council of State Governments to develop an interstate compact for occupational licensing portability. Based on the applications received from three organizations representing social work, DoD believes the Association of Social Work Boards is best suited to lead compact development efforts on behalf of the profession.  

    However, we believe that CSWA will be a crucial stakeholder in developing a compact for social workers. CSG would like to invite representatives from CSWA to join the compact technical assistance group that will engage in compact development activities jointly with ASWB and other social work regulatory stakeholders.  

    Thank you for your commitment to removing barriers to multistate practice for licensed practitioners. We will be in touch in the coming days to set up a call with our team at CSG. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions. 

    Sincerely, 

    National Center for Interstate Compacts 
    The Council of State Governments 
    1776 Avenue of the States, Lexington, KY 40511 

    CSWA will keep you informed on the progress of this helpful project.

    Kendra C. Roberson, PhD, LCSW | President & Education Committee, Social Work Consultant 
    president@clinicalsocialworkassociation.org

    Laura Groshong, LICSW, CSWA Director, Policy and Practice
    lwgroshong@clinicalsocialworkassociation.org


  • Thursday, February 18, 2021 3:23 PM | Jodi Hogue (Administrator)

    Below is an excellent summary of the legal protections for telehealth services, including behavioral health treatment, in all 50 states and District of Columbia (seven states do not have laws about telehealth coverage - AL, ID, PA, NC, SC, WI, WY) put together by the law firm of Foley and Lardner.  The link is https://www.foley.com/-/media/files/insights/publications/2021/02/21mc30431-50state-telemed-reportmaster-02082021.pdf

    The areas covered include state laws about coverage for telehealth and audio-only treatment; reimbursement requirements; how long coverage will last; the actual language of the laws in each state; and more. 

    Even if you think you know your state’s laws about telemental health, this is a good review and offers ways to improve telemental health laws based on what other states have done.

    Let me know if you have any questions about this information.

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


  • Wednesday, January 27, 2021 10:47 AM | Jodi Hogue (Administrator)

    CSWA is thrilled to see President Biden’s new executive orders today which will be huge steps toward anti-racism and true equity in our country.  They are:

    • To require fair housing policies and eliminate ‘red-lining’ of housing for BIPOC individuals and families
    • To end private prisons which have consistently promoted discriminatory policies and actions toward BIPOC incarcerated individuals
    • To combat the xenophobia that exists toward Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans
    • To strengthen nation-to-nation relationships with Native Americans and Alaska Natives

    In addition, President Biden is embedding racial equity in all Federal agencies.  The President wants his team to serve as a model on diversity, including hiring, purchasing, data and access. He has called racial inequality one of the four “converging crises” facing the nation.

    To hear the President’s complete remarks on his new policies go to https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2021/01/26/remarks-by-president-biden-at-signing-of-an-executive-order-on-racial-equity/ .

    CSWA is about to begin a series of six presentations on “Racism and the Clinical Process” in a virtual collaborative format on Wednesday evenings.  For more information go to https://www.clinicalsocialworkassociation.org/event-4134868.

    CSWA encourages all members to join us in the anti-racism effort which is finally being addressed at the Federal level.

    Kendra Roberson, PhD, LCSW, President
    Clinical Social Work Association


  • Thursday, January 14, 2021 11:03 PM | Jodi Hogue (Administrator)

    The State of Emergency has been extended to April 20, 2021.  It was scheduled to end next week on January 20th.  This means psychotherapy through videoconferencing or audio only means will be covered by Medicare, and likely private insurers.

    Listed below is new information about President-Elect Biden’s American Rescue Plan for expanding health care in four different areas when he takes office.  These plans are designed to ensure: Expansion of Health Care; Expansion of Access to Behavioral Health Services; Ensuring Adequate Funding for Veterans; and Combating Gender-Based Violence. These are detailed below:

    President-Elect Biden’s American Rescue Plan - Health Care Section

    Expanding access to behavioral health services. ​The pandemic has made access to mental health and substance use disorder services more essential than ever. The president-elect is calling on Congress to appropriate $4 billion to enable the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Health Resources and Services Administration to expand access to these vital services.

    Preserving and expanding health coverage. ​Roughly ​two to three million people​ lost employer sponsored health insurance between March and September, and even families who have maintained coverage may struggle to pay premiums and afford care. 

    Ensuring adequate funding for veterans’ health. ​COVID-19 has put enormous pressure on America's veterans and on the Veterans Health Administration that is charged with providing and facilitating top-notch care for them. The president-elect is committed to ensuring America delivers on its promise to the people who have served our country. To account for increased usage as many veterans have lost access to private health insurance, higher overall costs, and other pandemic-related impacts, the president-elect is immediately requesting an additional $20 billion to make sure that veterans’ health care needs can be met through this crisis.

    Combat increased risk of gender-based violence. ​The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated domestic violence and sexual assault, creating a “​shadow pandemic​” for many women and girls who are largely confined to their home with their abuser and facing economic insecurity that makes escape more difficult. President Biden is calling for at least $800 million in supplemental funding for key federal programs that protect survivors.

    CSWA will continue to keep you informed about the issues that affect LCSWs and our patients.

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


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