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  • Tuesday, January 02, 2024 5:26 PM | Anonymous

    The election results in Virginia appear very favorable to Clinical Social Workers and the mental health field. By slim margins in each Legislative house, the Democrats are now in control.

    Our top priority remains getting passage of the Social Work Licensure Compact. During the annual Legislative Conference, September 9th, those present heard about the Compact from both our lobbyists and the Legislative Branch Director, Judy Gallant. Information was presented and handouts made available. Now with the Virginia General Assembly elections decided and Democrats in control, it is time to move forward. Out lobbyist, Mark Smith has secured a patron in the Senate to introduce Compact Legislation. The Joint VSCSW and GWSCSW Legislative Committee will begin to meet via zoom to discuss strategies to ensure passage.

    This is where the membership will be call upon to get involved by contacting their respective House and Senate members. There are resources available that more fully explain the Compact and you can access the complete text of the compact from there. CSWA has developed some materials that will help with lobbying and can be accessed here. Members of the General Assembly can be most impacted by hearing from you the difference the Compact will make to the citizens of Virginia, your clients, and to our profession.

    At this time we do not have a bill number; but once this legislation is introduced members will be asked to make the phone calls. So stand by for further information.

    In order to gather information for future legislative action, an insurance survey was sent out to both the VSCSW and the GWSCSW on their respective experiences with insurance companies. The survey is needed to obtain data with how the third parties respond to claims: are they processed correctly? Are they then paid timely? Have providers been audited? Please look for this survey and complete it as directed. It is important. IF you did not receive it or if it is “lost” in your in box, please contact your respective Society’s Admins staff for a link to the survey. Thank you

  • Wednesday, September 13, 2023 12:02 PM | Anonymous

    Since securing the services of Mark Smith as the new lobbyist for the GWSCSW and the VSCSW, all has been quiet this summer. Of MOST importance is that all 140 seats of the Virginia General Assembly (GA) will be up for vote this November 7th - election day. Virginia is one of the few states to hold statewide elections in this “off year.”

    The composition of the GA will determine the type of legislation to be proposed. It will decide how pro-active or re-active the GWSCSW and the VSCSW will need to be during the legislative session. Our number one priority is the Social Work Interstate Compact. The interstate compact must pass the Virginia General Assembly and be signed by the Governor to become law. It is a totally political process. This will mean that members of the GWSCW who live (and vote in) Virginia will need to become politically active. We will need to contact - or better yet - visit our representatives (delegates or senators) and urge their support for the Compact bill. There are resources available that more fully explain the Compact and you can access the complete text of the compact from there. CSWA has developed some materials that will help with lobbying and can be accessed here. Members of the General Assembly can be most impacted by hearing from you the difference the Compact will make to the citizens of Virginia, your clients, and to our profession.

    What would be helpful - now- is to be active in the campaign of your chosen candidate for office in your House or Senate district. That is the best way to encourage their support later on. There is no substitute for political involvement DURING a campaign and before the election. Once the composition of the Legislature is known - which party is in charge of the House of Delegates and the Senate - we will be better able to strategize and assess the situation.

    The Virginia Legislative & Advocacy Committee of GWSCSW does NEED volunteers. There is a strong need for 2-3 individuals who live (and practice) in Northern Virginia to be part of this committee. Please contact L&A Branch Director Judy Gallant (judy.gallant@verizon.net) and VA L&A Committee Chair Wayne Martin (wamnoles@aol.com) if you are interested.

  • Thursday, June 08, 2023 5:06 PM | Anonymous

    Edited excerpts from Sue Rowland’s final report:

    Topics of bills from this years Virginia General Assembly (GA) of import to our members included monitoring the Professional Counselors’ success with their attempts to acquire Virginia GA’s agreement to participate in the Compact legislation (done! This bodes well for us in introducing the language of our Interstate Compact to legislators next year), legislation to streamline LCSW licensure without giving up the requirements necessary to protect the public consumers of your services, and issues related to the insurance coverage so necessary to support your practices. Oh yes, and opposition to legislation intended to tie your hands when serving kids in need of care.  These were your primary policy issues.

    Others you monitored to make sure nothing bad might result.  And a third group you monitored because a portion of your membership might be interested.

    That said…

    ** Insurance bills — you (& LPC’s) definitely have the attention of the GA as it related to how you are viewed and “treated” by the insurance industry that the GA has control over.  Some passed, others put on hold -- though some parts in those bills are covered in the ones that passed.  And work is yet to be done. The legislators need to have hard data about your experiences with the insurance industry as you simply work to do your jobs helping folks in need of mental health professionals.  Your prep work in a survey of VA members will be most helpful here.

    Our group, the joint legislative committee of the VSCSW and GWSCSW, took positions on 7 policy issues for which bills were introduced this session, to either support or oppose. Another set of bills were either “watched” to determine if positions were needed during the course of the session, or were monitored as of “interest" to some members of the Societies.

    From Wayne Martin:

    The GWSCSW membership may already know that the VSCSW lobbyist, Sue Rowland, has retired from active legislative work and her office is closed. However, before she retired, she recommended a colleague, Mark E. Smith, as her successor. The joint VSCSW/GWSCSW legislative committee, after interviewing Smith on zoom, examining his credentials and background, decided – unanimously -- to offer him a contract as our VSCSW/GWS lobbyist. His contract was APPROVED by both the VSCSW and GWSCSW Boards. His priorities, in addition to monitoring legislation in the 2024 Virginia General Assembly and assisting us in making contacts/connections with legislators in Northern Virginia, will be to assist in passing legislation for the “Interstate Compact”. His full contract is available for review by any Society member.  The cost of his services will be split evenly by the VSCSW and the GWSCSW. He begins his work with us as of July 1st, 2023. The L and A committee looks forward to a productive relationship with Smith. If there are any questions, please forward them to Wayne A. Martin (GWS liaison to the VSCSW and chair of the GWSCSW Virginia L&A Committee) at wamnoles@aol.com or to Branch Director, Judy Gallant.

  • Friday, March 03, 2023 1:04 PM | Anonymous

    The Virginia General Assembly is still in session as this report is being written. The Legislative Committees of the VSCSW and the GWSCSW meet via zoom weekly during the legislative session, with our shared lobbyist, Mrs. Sue Rowland. The purpose of these meetings is to monitor bills relevant to Clinical Social Work and, if needed, to discuss securing patrons for bills of our own interest. As we approach the mid-point of the session, Sue believes we are in “good shape.”

    Bills of interest have to do with the “Counseling Compact; Licensure of professional counselors” (HB 1433/SB802). This allows LPC's to practice in Compact member states. Social Work has NOT yet proposed similar legislation this session. Hopefully, we will be ready with a bill in 2024. If this bill passes, that will serve as a good precedent for LCSW's.

    There are a number of bills having to do with Health Insurance companies' ethics and fairness in dealing with providers (SB927; SB1154; HB1503; HB1505). There is HB2146, which directs the Virginia Board of Social Work to adopt reciprocity standards for LCSW candidates who meet criteria and are licensed in another state and to adopt procedures for LCSW licensure by endorsement. Finally, we support a bill proposed by VSCSW Legislative Chair, Joe Lynch, which would require the Virginia Board of Social Work to “maintain a list of names and contact information of persons approved by the the Board to supervise candidates for licensure” (HB2231). If you need additional information, please contact a member of the legislative committee.

    Our current lobbyist, Sue Rowland, who had graciously agreed to extend her contract one additional year, will finally retire as of May 31, 2023. The committee is currently seeking a replacement for our lobbyist who will serve our two Societies jointly as Sue has for a number of years. Sue is working with us in this process.

    Members of both Societies may have already received an email request to complete a survey on “Barriers to Insurance Claims Paid,” which we urge you to complete and return as soon as possible. This survey, based on concerns raised by members of both Societies, was composed by Joe Lynch and asks specific questions on third party responses to claims submitted from LCSWs. It is extremely IMPORTANT to respond to this survey because the data collected could be the basis of future legislation. 

    If there is a GWS member who resides in Virginia, is licensed by the Board of Social Work and would like to be a part of our important committee, please contact me (Wayne Martin,  wamnoles@aol.com) or Legislative Branch Director, Judy Gallant (judy.gallant@verizon.net).

  • Thursday, December 01, 2022 6:17 PM | Anonymous

    Wayne Martin, Chair, VA Legislation and Advocacy Committee

    First, let me pay tribute to and acknowledge the years of work provided by retiring Virginia L and A Co-chair, Judy Ratliff, LCSW.  For many years Judy served as the  Chair of the Virginia L and A Committee. She was dedicated, assertive, and inspirational. She made sure that the  concerns of the Northern Virginia members of the GWSCSW were acknowledged and listened to by the leadership of the VSCSW. This has always been a unique partnership. The VSCSW and the GWSCSW share equally in the expenses of the lobbyist (Sue Rowland); however, given the history (that goes back more than 25 years) of this relationship, the VSCSW has always taken the lead with legislative activities in the Commonwealth. Judy insisted that she (and now, we) be included in all conversations and decisions. She was instrumental in getting our lobbyist, Sue, to come out of semi-retirement for one more year to serve us in her capacity as legislative consultant. (Sue had retired; and after months of interviewing other firms with no results, Judy’s urging, or guilting, helped Sue agree to come back for one more year.) The GWSCSW owes Judy Ratliff a debt of gratitude. It has been an honor to serve as her Co-Chair.

    The joint groups (VSCSW Legislative Committee and the VA L&A Committee of the GWSCSW) currently have monthly zoom meetings with Sue Rowland. This is to communicate concerns and issues that may arise during the January Virginia Legislative session, to monitor legislation that may impact Virginia LCSW’s, and to consider our own legislation. Preparation is essential  as one never knows what “surprises” we may face. The role of our lobbyist is to review and monitor bills that could impact us and to report back to the committees. At this moment, there is no “critical legislation” for the upcoming legislative session. I add the word, “yet”.

    During our meetings, we rely on Joe Lynch, the VSCSW Legislative V.P. Joe has done extensive research on many of the current hot topics. Some of his work is featured in the boxed information below. Judy and I have supported his efforts and have let Joe take the lead. He attends the Virginia Board of Social Work meetings- has been an advocate for LCSW’s and often provides public comments that can assist the Board in their decision-making process. Joe has a working relationship with  Virginia NASW's long time Executive Director, Debra Riggs.  

    The committee continues to hear complaints from our members about insurance companies lack of timely payments and increasing barriers to reimbursement. Before we can consider legislation, we need facts and specifics. In order to gather this information, Joe has written a membership survey, “Survey to Measure the Current Status of LCSW/ Carrier Relationship: Practices That Are Barriers to getting claims Paid and Are Disincentives for Accepting Clients with Insurance.” The survey, once finalized, will be posted on the GWSCSW Webpage. PLEASE COMPLETE this very important survey and email it back to Joe Lynch.

    The committee continues to monitor the response and reaction to the ASWB Clinical Exam; the effort for an Interstate Compact; and other regulatory matters; the Committee pays close to attention to any regulatory  proposals or changes. We encourage ALL our members to be knowledgeable and  we encourage  reading  the minutes of the Va. Board of Social Work and look at the “Town Hall” section for proposals. All of this is public information. Check out the website of the Virginia Board of Social Work, https://www.dhp.virginia.gov/social/

    Finally, the best way each member can assist the committee, is to know their respective Virginia state Delegate and Senator. Make sure they know you vote and are concerned about mental health issues.

    Virginia will have a Special Election on January 10, 2023,  for one House of Delegates seat (35th District, Fairfax County) and one Senate of Virginia seat (7th District, Norfolk City, Virginia Beach City).  Sue Rowland says that the turnout will likely be very low and the “whoever shows up” rule will be very important in this one.

    There is an election next November (2023) and all 140 seats in the Virginia General Assembly are up for re-election. Politicians listen to their constituents.

    If anyone is interested in being a part of this GWS Virginia L&A Committee, please contact either our Branch Chair, Judy Gallant, judy.gallant@verizon.net or myself, Wayne A. Martin, LCSW, wamnoles@aol.com

    Virginia Board of Social Work Board Members

    Eboni C. Bugg, MSW, LCSW
    First Term Ends June 30, 2025
    Albemarle, VA

    Sherwood Randolph, Jr., MSW, LCSW
    First Term Ends June 30, 2026
    Richmond, VA

    Canek Aguirre, Citizen Member

    Second Term Ends June 30, 2024
    Alexandria, VA

    Angelia Allen, Citizen Member
    Second Term Ends June 30, 2023
    Portsmouth, VA

    Jamie Clancey, MSW, LCSW
    Second Term Ends June 30, 2023
    Culpepper, VA

    Denise Purgold, MSW, LCSW
    First Term Ends June 30, 2026
    Henrico, VA

    Elke Cox, MSW, LCSW
    First Term Ends June 30, 2026
    Lynchburg, VA

    Gloria Manns, MSW, LCSW
    Second Term Ends June 30, 2024
    Roanoke, VA

    Teresa Reynolds, MSW, LCSW
    First Term Ends June 30, 2024
    Cumberland, VA


    Governor Youngkin has appointed 3 new members to the Virginia Board of Social Work.  They are:

    Sherwood Randolph, Jr., MSW, LCSW, Denise Purgold, MSW, LCSW, and Elke Cox, MSW, LCSW.  For the first time in the Board’s history a Citizen Member of the Board, Canek Aguirre, was elected to be the Chairperson.

    Governor Youngkin has issued Executive Order 19 that requires Health Regulatory Boards to reduce their regulations by 25%.  On October 26, 2022, Governor Glenn Youngkin announced that “…the Virginia Board of Social Work, a health regulatory board under the Department of Health Professions, has enacted regulations that will speed up the process by which a social worker from another state can receive a license in Virginia…”.

    The Va. Board of Social Work is one of the first of the boards to comply with the Executive Order issued by Governor Youngkin. This reduction should make the process of getting a Virginia clinical license through “endorsement” more efficient. Changes to the regulations allow for out-of-state practitioners to apply for a Virginia license without the verification of 24 months of post-licensure active practice or providing evidence that their education and supervised experience are substantially equivalent to Virginia’s requirements. Out-of-State Social Work licensees that hold a comparable LCSW, LMSW or LBSW in good standing can quickly and efficiently apply for licensure in Virginia by applying online (which includes a fee), and providing verification of passing an examination at the level for which they are seeking licensure. 

    The Board of Social Work regulations will allow out-of-state applicants who took a state social work exam or whose examination was waived by the initial licensing state to gain licensure without taking the national examination. This regulation directly affects seasoned out-of-state licensees who may not have been required initially to pass the national social work examination.

    Those who are licensed in MD and DC and want a VA license, should consult with the VA. Board of Social Work on the new endorsement process.

  • Friday, September 02, 2022 7:05 PM | Anonymous

    Judy Ratliff and Wayne Martin, Co-Chairs, VA Legislation and Advocacy Committee


    The Virginia Health Care Foundation has a program called Boost 200.  It is a new initiative that will pay for licensure-required supervision for motivated Master's-prepared social workers to help them become LCSW in VA.  For more information, please go to https://www.vhcf.org/boost 200/

    The Virginia Telemental Health Initiative (VTMHI) is a pilot program to expand access to timely and appropriate telemental health services to low-income, un-and under-assured patients by collaborating with pre-licensed behavioral and mental health professionals.  To help expedite licensure, VTMHI will match the latter with supervisors to achieve needed client contact hours while providing pro-bono support in free and charitable clinics.  For more information, please go to https://ehealthvirginia.org/vifrginiatelementalhealth/

    Foundational Competencies in Older Adult Mental Health Certificate Program

    The E4 Center of Excellence for Behavioral Disparities in Aging, in partnership with CATCH-ON, the Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program based at Rush, and the Rush Center for Excellence in Aging has developed an online educational program that provides  basic knowledge that every mental health clinician needs to work effectively with older adults.  It is a 14 hour certificate program that can serve as a first step in developing competency in older adult mental health.  Please contact aging@rush.edu for details.

    Petition for Rulemaking

    Below, please find information on rulemaking by Joe Lynch, the Legislative and Advocacy Chair for the Virginia Society for Clinical Social Workers (VSCSW).

    1. Interstate Social Work Compact: Attached and also you can see it at this hyperlink:  https://compacts.csg.org/compact-updates/social-work/
    2. Petition for Rule-Making: Attached and you can see it at this hyperlink: https://townhall.virginia.gov/L/ViewPetition.cfm?petitionId=371
    3. Estimated Economic Impact on MSW supervisees
    4. Letter to Jaime Hoyle requesting Administrative Change
    5. NASW notice to CareDash and Better Help
    6. Message to VSCSW and GWSCSW 
    7. Assessment of the Capacity of Virginia’s Licensed Behavioral Health Workforce: Attached and also at this hyperlink: https://www.vhcf.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/BH-Assessment-Final-1.11.2022.pdf
    8. VBSW-approved supervisor list 
    9. Psychology letter re: Emotional Support animals 
    10. VSCSW and GWSCSW Legislative Committee Meeting Agenda 8-9-22
    11. Grant opportunities for MSWs under supervision, to receive funds to pay for supervision toward LCSW
    Judy Ratliff, Co-Chair, jratliff.lcsw@gmail.com  | Wayne Martin, Co-Chair, wamnoles@aol.com
  • Friday, June 03, 2022 7:04 PM | Anonymous

    Judy Ratliff and Wayne Martin, Co-Chairs, VA Legislation and Advocacy Committee


    As some of you may know, Virginia has been without a lobbyist since December, 2021. Our lobbyist of many years, Sue Rowland, decided to semi-retire at that time. GWSCSW and VSCSW did launch an exhaustive search, and had two excellent candidates. Unfortunately, we did not realize the cost of current fees charged by lobbyists in Virginia, and found that they were way outside of our shared budgets. Although Sue was in semi-retirement, she did still have some clients, and we approached her to establish terms on which she might return. Just a few weeks ago, we were able to conclude negotiations. and she has agreed to return for one year, with the option to return for a second year. We are so, so excited that she is going to continue to keep us as clients, because she knows us and knows the needs of clinical social work and social workers in Virginia.

    New member of the Virginia Legislation and Advocacy Committee

    We welcome Brian Rink as a new member of our committee. Brian recently moved to Virginia from Maryland and has a strong interest in legislation and advocacy. We are very happy to have him.

    Judy Ratliff, Co-Chair, jratliff.lcsw@gmail.com  | Wayne Martin, Co-Chair, wamnoles@aol.com

  • Monday, April 11, 2022 9:10 PM | Anonymous

    Judy Ratliff and Wayne Martin, Co-Chairs, VA Legislation and Advocacy Committee

    Looking for a Lobbyist

    As you may know, GWSCSW and VSCSW share a lobbyist.  Sue Rowland has been our lobbyist over the past several years and she is leaving to go into semi-retirement.  She was very helpful in arranging zoom meetings between members of our committee and Senators George Barker and Janet Howell of Fairfax.  Dan Campbell joined us in meeting with Senator Howell, who was very appreciative of his input with VOICES in trying to obtain full funding for Crisis Receiving Centers and the STPE VA System.  We will sorely miss Sue's lobbying efforts on our behalf and that of our clients.

    Responding to Our Members' Insurance Concerns

    Last fall, our members voiced numerous concerns about pressures from insurance companies, including justifying certain payment codes and withholding or delaying payments.  We heard you.  Our lobbyist contacted the Virginia Bureau of Insurance (BOI) and the VSCSW took the lead in setting up a conference with a BOI representative in October, 2021.  Many concerns were voiced during that conference.  One of the most serious concerns is that the BOI, by law, can only accept complaints from our clients who are the insurance recipients and cannot accept complaints from therapists.  Sue Rowland took this concern to Senator Barker, who agreed to submit legislation to change the existing law to allow treatment providers to contact BOI directly.  Unfortunately, we were unable to get it on the legislative docket for this year.  We understand that there will be strenuous pushback from the insurance companies.  We also understand that the psychiatrists have expressed the same concerns and it may be possible to "join forces" with them during the rest of this year, to push for this much needed change in the law during the 2023 Legislative Session.

    The Joys of Sharing

    I stated above that the GWSCSW and the VSCSW share the cost of a lobbyist who will represent our interests, and those of our clients, in the Virginia Legislature.  However, we share even more.  We jointly sponsor meetings and allow full members of each society to attend each others' workshops for free or at member rates.  This allows members of both societies to benefit from a greater range of low-cost CE programs.  Additionally, Wayne Martin and I regularly attend quarterly VSCSW zoom board meetings, which the lobbyist also attends.  This facilitates smoother coordination of efforts toward the same goals.


    There will be telehealth legislation proposed this year.  We will keep you posted.

    Contributions from Our Members

    Below, please see an article by Roger Rothstein, who documents the power of our members working together to deal with a request from Medicare for case documentation to justify the use of procedure code 90837.

    In January 2021, I received a letter from Novitas Solutions, the Medicare administrator for the DC Metro Area, which is summarized below:

    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services continually strive to reduce the improper payment of Medicare claims .  As a Medicare Contractor, Novitas is tasked with preventing inappropriate Medicare payments.  One of the ways this is conducted is through medical review of claims.  Medical review of claims helps to ensure that Medicare pays for services that are covered, correctly coded and medically reasonable and necessary. Services you billed to Medicare were chosen for a post-payment service specific review for procedure code 90837 (psychotherapy 60 minutes) because data analysis has identified these services are frequently not billed and coded correctly per the Medicare guidelines.

    As a result of this data, we have selected a post-payment sample of 20 claims reporting code 90837 from 2019 .  You are responsible for providing documentation for the services identified by March 8, 2021 (6 weeks).

    Translation to the above:  Here are 20 claims for services rendered in 2019.  You need to document your justification for these services provided with procedure code 90837 by sharing your records of each of these 20 encounters.  After the review,  we are authorized to require you to reimburse us for monies paid to you for those services if we deem them not justified as needing 60 minutes of clinical time.

    After reading this several times and noting my anxiety level elevating by the second, I started to call a few colleagues about this.  One person said she had received the same letter, but others did not.  I am sure my news elevated their anxiety as well.  I decided to put this out to the GWSCSW listserve soon after I received the letter.  By a few days later, it became clear that these letters had arrived at many offices:  specifically they seemed to have targeted Northern Virginia clinicians in social work and psychology.

    What to do? Having a live meeting in January 2021, didn’t seem like a wise idea so a zoom meeting was offered to anyone interested in discussing this situation and planning a response. Within a week or so, we had identified a Saturday morning to meet and about 18 people were on the call.  This group came together in ways to strategize and support each other.  Various record-keeping templates were exchanged electronically;  members were tasked to contact the Clinical Social Work Association and consult with an attorney; research for documentation on rationales for using various ICD codes were shared; “talking points” on what Medicare was looking for in patient records was discussed; how and whether to inform clients of this review was discussed (two of the client’s whose cases they wanted me to document had died since 2019). At the end of this first meeting, we had developed a strategy to work together with the goal of helping each person prepare to provide the information requested.

    Over the next couple of weeks, much information was gathered and we again met as a group .  The reduction in anxiety was evident as members of the group talked about how they had begun to approach this task.  There was much appreciation expressed to everyone who had contributed their time, thoughts and clinical knowledge. What a great example of how in this digital age, people can exchange ideas and research both in text and online chat to help manage challenging tasks! The Clinical Society’s listserve networking technology and being able to tap into it’s vast informed membership were invaluable to our meeting this challenge.

    I was able to submit my documentation late in February and was notified shortly afterward that I “passed” and therefore would not need to reimburse Uncle Sam for my efforts.

    We welcome input from members.  If any of you are out there advocating for clients or legislation, please let us know and submit an article for us to include here in the GWSCSW quarterly newsletter.

    Judy Ratliff, Co-Chair, jratliff.lcsw@gmail.com  | Wayne Martin, Co-Chair, wamnoles@aol.com

  • Friday, January 14, 2022 8:13 PM | Anonymous

    Judy Ratliff and Wayne Martin, Co-Chairs, VA Legislation and Advocacy Committee

    Sue Rowland has been  our lobbyist for several years and has played a very important role in helping GWSCSW and VSCSW successfully achieve legislative goals.  Recently, she has been instrumental in setting up meetings between GW and delegates/senators from Northern Virginia, as well as meetings that have also included VSCSW.  A major goal was to acquaint them with some of the serious problems our members are having with insurance companies.  The end result was that they agreed that we could send them the problems, but also recommend some solutions. So, please send your case examples to me at jratliff.lcsw@gmail.com or to Wayne Martin at wamnoles@aol.com and we will forward all that are appropriate, along with your suggestions to solve the problem.  Medicaid-related problems are governed by Virginia Law and will be quite appropriate to send to the legislators.  If your problems are with private insurance, we will figure out how to make them relevant to the legislative process.  Keep reading and you will see other options for dealing with this.

    Our lobbyist will also explore setting up meetings with insurance company representatives and representatives from our organizations.  Another possible solution will be found below.

    This brings us to the more unhappy news about our lobbyist.  Sue Roland will be retiring from most of her lobbying clients, which means she will be leaving both Societies.  She has given us the names of two potential new lobbyists, and we will be meeting with them soon.  Sue will remain involved with us through the end of December, 2021.

    Insurance Issues

    Based on the problems with insurance plans that kept showing up in the list-serve. I asked our lobbyist, Sue Rowland, to set up a meeting with the VA Bureau of Insurance (BOI) to clarify what they can and cannot do for us and our clients.  The meeting was organized jointly by us and the VSCSW, and they were the primary organizers.  The meeting was held on October 15, 2021, with Ms. Billie White. 

    The BOI enforces and administers the insurance laws of Virginia to protect consumers and safeguard insurer solvency. The BOI also provides free professional information and complaint services to residents of Virginia.  Alas, herein lies the rub.  Our clients can call and register complaints against the insurance companies, but we, as providers, cannot.  It took a while, and a lot of case examples presented by attendees, but Ms. White finally heard us.  She agreed to relay our desire to be able to contact the BOI ourselves to an appropriate contact higher up in the BOI administration.  This change would not only help us, but would give the BOI the opportunity to collect provider data to send to the Legislature, which is the only body that can change the law to allow providers to contact BOI directly. 

    There were two other points made by Ms. White.  Providers need to check their contracts carefully to determine what is actually required of them by the insurance company.  And providers can contact the BOI, who will direct them to the appropriate person to contact with problems with federal, Medicare and Medicaid insurances.

    How to Find Your Legislators

    Sue Rowland presented at the recent Legislation and Advocacy Luncheon held on October 31.  

    One of the topics covered was how to find which Virginia senator and delegate represent you.  To do this, go to https://www.virginiageneralassembly.gov.  Click on Visit the New "Who's my New Legislator Service".  Then follow the prompts to find the legislators who represent you, as well as which legislative district you live in.

    Crisis Receiving Centers  (From a press release)

    Governor Ralph Northam signed legislation on September 21, 2021, establishing the "Marcus Alert", a statewide mental health alert system to ensure behavioral health experts are involved in responding to individuals in crisis, including by limiting the role of law enforcement.  The law is named to honor Marcus-David Peters, a high school biology teacher who was killed by a police officer in Richmond while experiencing a behavioral health crisis in 2018.

    "Individuals in crisis must be treated with dignity and met by behavioral health professionals who are equipped to help them get the care they need," said Governor Northam.  "I am grateful to the advocates across Virginia (who) made their voices heard, and I thank the General Assembly for passing this bill, which represents an important step forward in reforming a system that too often criminalizes mental illness.  Our work is far from finished, and I remain committed to continuing our efforts."  Hopefully, our new governor and the Republican House will continue to see the importance of this program.  

    It should be noted that one of our members, Dan Campbell, has been very active in advocating for this program and has provided a synopsis of his work, as follows:

    The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services is implementing the Marcus Alert Law in response to the police killing of Marcus-David Peters in 2018. The law requires Virginia to create a mental health crisis response system that will include a new 988 emergency number that will go to a separate call center beginning in the summer of 2022. Crisis responders will be able to bring people in need to Crisis Receiving Centers (CRC’s) rather than to criminal detention centers or emergency departments. These services will reduce mass incarceration and the overpopulation of state psychiatric hospitals.

    A CRC is opening in Prince William County with 23-hour stabilization beds for 16 adults and 16 children. Additionally, 16 medium-term beds will allow patients to stay for up to 14 days, usually on Temporary Detention Orders (TDO’s). As you might imagine, a lot of money is required for the initial build out and ongoing operation of CRC’s. While Medicaid will pay for patients, the current estimate is that 38% of patients in the Prince William County CRC will be uninsured, requiring $7 million per year to keep it open. Fairfax County has similar services through the Merrifield Center. Other counties also are creating their own mobile crisis teams and CRC’s. However, state money to fully fund these efforts has not been allocated and is not in the current Governor’s budget for the 2022 General Assembly session.

    GWSCSW has Virginians for Organized Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE), a grassroots advocacy group with over 50 dues-paying member congregations, to push for the full funding of CRC’s throughout the state. Dan Campbell has been active with both VOICE and our legislative advocacy committee. VOICE also advocates for other social justice issues, such as affordable housing and restoring drivers' licenses to felons.  If you want to learn more about this issue, reach out to Dan Campbell at dancampbell@aol.com.

    Contributions to This Monthly Article from The Members

    We welcome, well, we actually desire, to have--articles like Dan's that reflect what you, as members, are advocating for.  We will be sending out a request for information to go into this column, on a quarterly basis, to be posted in the list-serve.  Our members are doing a lot in the area of advocacy and we want to recognize that.


    No, we are not vampires.  But we do need new blood on our L & A Committee.  We are old and are both retired.  We need members who are still practicing.  It does not require giving a pint.  A quarter of a cup, even an eighth of a cup, will do.  A request from us may be to assist us in our contacts with legislators, provide information that will assist in passing relevant legislation, writing an article  for this column, or in contacting your legislator to assist in promoting or defeating legislation.  We look forward to your responses to our requests.

    Judy Ratliff, Co-Chair, jratliff.lcsw@gmail.com  | Wayne Martin, Co-Chair, wamnoles@aol.com

  • Wednesday, September 01, 2021 8:22 PM | Anonymous

    Judy Ratliff and Wayne Martin, Co-Chairs, VA Legislation and Advocacy Committee


    This includes investments in mental health services, substance use treatment and prevention, hospital staffing and critical infrastructure. The plan also includes targeted investments to alleviate pressure on state mental health hospitals and strengthen community-based services.

    The proposed funding package will rely on a combination of discretionary funds and block grants from The American Reconciliation Act and The Consolidated Appropriations Act.  The funding includes $200 million for staffing at state behavioral health facilities and intellectual training centers and $150 million to increase access to community-based crisis services and child and family support services, and provide dispatcher training for a new statewide mental health alert system designed to ensure behavioral health experts are involved in responding to individuals in crisis.  An additional $5 million dollars will be dedicated to providing permanent supportive housing in Northern Virginia to assist with bed services.


    Please let me or Wayne Martin know your concerns about insurance so we can include them in the planning process The workshop will be held in late September or October, and we will keep you up to date on the listserve.

    There are some more issues "in the works" and we will report on them in the next newsletter.

    Changing Face of Virginia - from Delegate Ken Plum

    The results of the 2020 U.S. Census remind us that the world around us changes in more ways than we might consciously detect or understand. That small sliver of the world known as Virginia has undergone many changes before and after receiving its name. 

    For many, the history of Virginia started with the English landing at Jamestown in 1607. Humans inhabited the land area of what is now known as Virginia for 15,000 to 20,000 years before the English arrived. Its first inhabitants probably crossed the glaciers at the now Bering Straits and made their way along the edges of the glaciers down river valleys and probably entered what is now Virginia in its southwestern area. Archaeological findings support this explanation of the settling of Virginia

    At the time English colonists arrived in the spring of 1607, Virginia was inhabited by the Powhatan Indians, who had a total population of about 13,000 to14,000 with a rich history of culture and traditions and a government of 30-some tribal groups. With aggressive English expansion throughout the state, the number of Indians in Virginia was but a fraction of the number at its highest point and with the Racial Integrity Act of 1924 were eliminated from official statistics. Adding to the original settlers were thousands of enslaved Black persons who were brought here without their consent.

    The census report released last week paints a different face for Virginia. The country passed two milestones on its way to becoming a majority-minority society in the coming decades: For the first time, the portion of white people dipped below 60%, slipping from 63.7% in 2010 to 57.8% in 2020. And the under-18 population is now a majority of people of color, at 52.7%.

    Between the 2010 census and the new census, Virginia’s population grew by 7.9%, slightly higher than the national growth rate of 7.4%. Virginia remains the 12th most populous state.

    Fairfax County is now the second most racially diverse county in Virginia and is now a majority-minority population following Prince William County. While white residents remain the largest racial or ethnic group in the county, they are no longer the majority, making up 47.1% of the overall population with 542,001 residents, a drop of nearly 50,000 people from 2010, when the county’s 590,622 white residents constituted 54.6% of its population. Compared to the rest of the United States, Fairfax County ranked 42nd out of 3,143 counties in the country on the racial and ethnic diversity index of the 2020 Census.

    This new face of Virginia as identified in census results will be redistricted at the federal, state and local levels. Virginia will retain eleven seats in the House of Representatives, but the boundaries of the districts will be redrawn by the General Assembly to reflect shifts in populations. Likewise, House of Delegates and State Senate seats will be drawn by a commission approved by the voters last year to reflect population shifts. That commission has already been hard at work holding public hearings throughout the state. Local governments will redistrict themselves.

    Even before official counts until today we can trace a different face for Virginia. 

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