Maryland Legislative Advocacy
Current telehealth policies in MD: Clinical social workers can practice using audio, visual, and telephone, as long as they practice within ethical and HIPAA standards of care. Insurance companies will be unable to require providers and patients to use proprietary telehealth platforms in Maryland. See information under Senate Bill 3 below for a more detailed explanation of the law currently in place regarding telehealth.
Practicing telehealth across state lines was permitted on a provisional basis in Maryland during the public health emergency to provide continuity of care for our clients. The public health emergency ended in Maryland on June 30, 2021. At this time, in order to provide teletherapy to someone located in Maryland, you must obtain a Maryland license.
For those holding MD licenses that need to be renewed by October 31, 2021: The current continuing education requirement for LCSW-Cs is 40 credit units of continuing education in programs and categories approved by the Board for each two-year period of licensure. Licensees must obtain at least 20 of the 40 credits in Category I. Category 1 CEUs can be obtained through virtual programs that are live and interactive at the time they are taken; recorded programs given by approved providers will receive Category II credits. All 40 credit units may be earned in Category I. Of the 40 required credit units, a licensee must obtain 3 credit units in Category I or Category II in a content area focusing on ethics and professional conduct.
Current activity of the Maryland Legislature that impacts the profession of Clinical Social Work and Mental Health
Don’t forget to check out News and Views for the latest and prior information and activity of your Maryland Legislation and Advocacy committee.
The Maryland General Assembly completed its 3-month long 2021 legislative session on Monday, April 12. Some of the most important laws affecting LCSW-Cs that passed this session address telehealth rules; LCSW-Cs being authorized to be a second signature for involuntary admission to a hospital; reducing the age an adolescent may consent to mental health treatment from 16 to 12 years old; implicit bias training that will be required for license renewal; and a reduction in supervision hours required for new LCSW-Cs. Details are below. Information on additional legislation passed in 2021 will appear in the September newsletter.
Our major priority this session was to advocate for the continuation of telehealth access for patients and we were successful! There was broad support for Senate Bill 3: Preserve Telehealth Access Act of 2021 which codifies the use of telehealth that had been expanded in 2020 as a result of the pandemic. The legislation requires insurance plans (including Medicaid) to pay equally for in-person and telehealth visits with the same CPT codes. Telephone services (audio only) is now codified as telehealth in Maryland. Additionally, insurance companies will be unable to require providers and patients to use proprietary telehealth platforms in Maryland. The bill will be in effect between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2023. During that time, the Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC) is required to study the impact of providing telehealth services on patients and providers and must issue a report with recommendations to the General Assembly by December 1, 2022. The General Assembly will have the opportunity to make the law, and potential changes to it, permanent during the 2023 session (prior to the termination of the provisions on June 30, 2023). The MHCC, through our lobbyist, Pam Metz Kasemeyer, met with us in May to garner our help for them to be in touch with providers for the study. Look for updates about later this year.
Our member, Arthur Flax, developed important legislation – House Bill 698: Mental Health-Assent to and Certificates for Admission-Licensed Certified Social worker-Clinical and Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor - which now authorizes LCSW-Cs and LCPCs to be the second signatory on a certification of involuntary admission to a state facility or VA hospital, as well as a second signatory of a voluntary admission of a minor to a child or adolescent unity of a state facility. Kudos to Arthur for identifying the need for this, identifying sponsoring legislators, helping to draft the bill, and shepherding the legislation through to enactment. We gave testimony supporting the bill, as did NASW and others.
The Senate Bill 41: Health – Mental and Emotional Disorders – Consent (Mental Health Access Initiative) lowers the age from 16 years to 12 years, at which a youth can seek mental health treatment without consent from a parent or guardian. The health care provider retains the authority to determine if the minor is mature and capable of giving informed consent, and also permits the provider to release information to a parent or guardian without the minor’s consent, unless the provider believes the disclosure will lead to harm to the minor or deter the minor from seeking care. A minor younger than 16 is not authorized to consent to the use of prescription medications to treat a mental or emotional disorder. The current provisions of law, which do not allow a minor to refuse consultation, diagnosis or treatment for a mental or emotional disorder for which a parent or guardian has given consent, remains unchanged.
House Bill 28: Public Health – Implicit Bias Training and the Office of Minority Health Disparities requires all licensed and certified health care professionals to complete an implicit bias training course that is recognized by a health occupations board or accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education and approved by the Cultural and Linguistic Health Care Professional Competency Program, in conjunction with the Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities. A health care provider must attest to the completion of an implicit bias training course on the provider’s first application for license renewal after April 1, 2022. Additionally, the bill expands the reporting requirements of the Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities to include racial and ethnic data in their annual “Health Care Disparities Policy Report Card,” post the information on their website, and update the data every 6 months.
House Bill 811: State Board of Social Work Examiners – Revisions largely makes technical changes, but additionally reduces the supervision hours required for training for an LCSW-C from 144 hours to 100 hours. Virginia and DC and other jurisdictions across the country also require 100 supervision hours for their clinical licenses.
Link to the Maryland Board of Social Work Examiners: https://health.maryland.gov/bswe/Pages/default.aspx
Contact Information for Important MD BSWE staff:
Stanley E. Weinstein, Executive Director, Stanley.Weinstein@maryland.gov
Gloria Jean Hammel, Director of Certification & Licensing, Gloria.Hammel@maryland.gov
Gail A. Wowk, Director, Planning & Continuing Education, Gail.Wowk@maryland.gov
Board meetings are held the second Friday of the month, open session begins at 10:30 am. Meetings are currently (June, 2021) virtual. For updated information on meetings, and minutes of previous meetings can be found at https://health.maryland.gov/bswe/Pages/Board-Meetings.aspx