This report is based, in part, on the multi-page summary of this year’s legislative session from our lobbyist, Pam Metz Kasemeyer, JD.
The Maryland General Assembly completed its 2021 legislative session on Monday, April 12. There were no in-person sessions due to the pandemic – all business and votes were conducted via Zoom and YouTube. The committee voting sessions, which have previously been primarily closed-door meetings, were available to be viewed in real time by the public.
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, has requested to meet with us in May to help them with being in touch with providers for the study. Look for updates about this in our next newsletter.
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 unit 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.
Judy Gallant, LCSW-C, is the director of the Society’s Legislation & Advocacy program, as well as chair of the Maryland Clinical Social Work Coalition, our GWSCSW legislative committee in Maryland. She maintains a private practice in Silver Spring.
Pamela Metz Kasemeyer, JD, and her firm of Schwartz, Metz & Wise, PA, represent us in Annapolis and guide our advocacy strategy. Ms. Kasemeyer is an acknowledged authority on Maryland’s health care and environmental laws and has represented a variety of interests before the Maryland General Assembly and regulatory agencies for more than 25 years.
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