Advocacy Priorities for CSWA – 2022 (*=Major)
Laura Groshong, LICSW, Director, Policy and Practice
The Clinical Social Work Association Mission guides our advocacy. Every year the Government Relations Committee evaluates what issues are most important and whether there is a vehicle to pass them in Congress. CSWA also consults with affiliated state societies about issues that are important in their state/jurisdiction.
This year our national advocacy priorities, in order of importance, are:
1. *Stop Connection between CareDash and BetterHelp – the connection between these two organizations has been stopped for the time being, as well as the use of LCSW information which was shared by them to direct patients to BetterHelp therapists.
2. *Improve ASWB Clinical Test Results – discuss with ASWB the ways to improve test results for BIPOC clinical social workers. Recent data show a huge difference between white clinical social workers and BIPOC clinical social workers.
3. *Pass Legislation for Permanent Telemental Health, Including Audio Only, Psychotherapy Coverage – in the time of COVID it is crucial that psychotherapy through videoconferencing and audio-only means continues to be covered by Medicare and private insurers. CSWA will be supporting the many bills in Congress that will make this a reality.
4. *Pass Legislation to Implement Mental Health Parity According to the Wit v. UBH Standards – the 2019 Wit v. UBH decision was unfortunately overturned in California this year. CSWA still sees this decision as the best formulation of mental health policy and hope it will lead to the long overdue enforcement of mental health parity through Congressional action.
5. *Voting Rights – protection of voting rights is a major part of mental health. CSWA has been a strong advocate for District of Columbia statehood and expands that position to prevent the attempts to restrict voting rights in all states.
6. *Immigrant Families – the crisis created by separating immigrant parents and children, over 19,000, has been a special concern of CSWA. We have worked with the Mental Health Liaison Group to stop the cruel policies that were implemented by the previous administration. CSWA will continue to work to reunite the 500 children still separated from their parents and make DACA individuals permanent US citizens.
7. *Keep Affordable Care Act Intact – the many efforts to repeal ACA are going to harm millions of people who have gained health care as a result of the ACA. All plans which have been proposed to ‘replace’ the ACA will do nothing to lower costs or provide better care. Keeping the ACA intact with some minor tweaks to funding, maintaining the essential benefits, and continuing to expand Medicaid are all a primary goal of CSWA.
8. Educate Public about Psychotherapy and Text Therapy by LCSWs – text therapy has some value in the way that LCSWs communicate with their patients. Using it to actually provide treatment asynchronously is a way to undermine the value of psychotherapy. CSWA will use our position paper on this topic.
9. *Social Determinants of Health – integrate social issues which contribute to mental health and substance use problems into services covered by LCSWs through Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, and commercial insurers. The issues include services related to basic needs like food, shelter, transportation, and special services needed for patients with cognition problems.
10. Disparities in Mental Health and Substance Use Access to Treatment and Treatment Outcomes – people of color, particularly Black people, have been unable to find adequate mental health and substance use services. Congressional funding for these services to eliminate these disparities is a primary goal of CSWA.
11. Consider the Value of Single Payer – a discussion is developing about the possibility of creating a nationwide health care system. CSWA is still considering the pros and cons of this option, practically and politically, and will be looking at the feasibility of this goal.
12. Treatment of Addiction – increased awareness of addiction and state regulation of endorsement to provide treatment for addiction may require more training in treatment of substance abuse for LCSWs who wish to work in this area.
13. Privileging of Medication over Psychotherapy – over the past 30 years, psychotropic medication has become the primary treatment for emotional distress, recommended by primary care physicians and insurers. Building bridges with PCPs and making psychotherapy a fundamental part of the way that emotional disorders are treated is a major goal.