Thursday, July 30, 2009


As I read the daily papers, tune into NPR for a wider view of the world, and discuss local and global issues with my chums, social work colleagues and family members, my range of responses can flow from eager involvement, acute listening, and thoughtful conversations to outrage, resignation, and then on to denial. On the one hand, I want, in my lifetime, to see the end poverty and homelessness, the dissolution of anger between people, and the presence of world peace. On the other hand I see how intransigent is our history of violence, how massive is poverty in our country and around the world and how complex is the array of solutions already tried and for the most part failed. I can be frustrated, disappointed,outraged and stay in those states. Or...

I can look for what is possible, what steps I can take--to make a difference. I can choose action. The tiny, medium or large steps. And here is where he juice lies. Getting into action. Will it make a difference, I wonder. Will I actually see the results? I am reminded of a biblical saying whose origins are lost. It goes like this. "It is not incumbent on us to finish the task, but neither are we free to desist from it. My response? 'Count me in!'

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Social Workers and Identity Theft: The FTC "Red Flags" Rule

Medical identity theft is a problem of increasing proportions and disturbing implications for the provision of health care. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued new regulations to address identity theft, including medical identity theft, and clinical social workers will need to review their operating procedures for compliance with the new requirements.

The Red Flags Rule to reduce and prevent identity theft is primarily directed to financial institutions and creditors; however, a broad interpretation of the new regulations by the FTC can include health care providers as “creditors.” Entities subject to the Rule are required to implement an identity theft program capable of recognizing and responding to possible fraudulent activity. The "potential patterns, practices or specific activities indicating the possibility of identity theft" are considered “red flags” that should alert businesses to take further action.

Clinical social workers in private practice, who bill patients and insurance companies, fall within the definition of “creditors” because they are allowing patients to defer payments. Practitioners who collect all payments at the time of service would not be considered creditors.

Clinical social workers in fee-for-service practice settings will need to comply with the FTC "Red Flags" Rule by November 1, 2009 if they are billing health insurers for services.
A small social work practice can develop simple written policies to readily comply. A do-it-yourself four-step guide is available online: Click to open the Do-it-yourself Prevention Program

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Rita Van Tassel, former Chapter President Dies

Today we received word that Rita Van Tassel, President of the Massachusetts Chapter of NASW from 2001 to 2003, passed away on July 12, 2009. In addition to being the Chapter President, Rita championned the social work profession with the Managed Care Organizations when they first showed up on the mental health insurance landscape in the 1980's. She was an advocate, a mentor to many, (including myself) and a 'real' lady as some of my senior advisors have pointed out.

This spring, she charmingly shared with me that a former high school or college sweetheart had connected with her through Facebook. They fell in love, married, did some globe trotting and settled in Colorado. She truly lived her life 'in possibility.'

The obituary appears in the Boston Globe, July 14.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Join the Chapter in acting against hate crimes !

This Tuesday, July 14 2009 at 1:00 pm the NASW priority bill: HB1728 An Act Relative to Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes is scheduled for a hearing in Gardner Auditorium, the State House

This bill will add Massachusetts to 13 other states, Washington D.C., and 102 counties and cities, including Boston, Cambridge, and Northampton making the protection of transgender people explicit, uniform, and visible to the general public. It will include gender identity and expression in the state's non-discrimination statute and will amend existing hate crime laws to explicitly protect people targeted for violence and harassment.

What can you do to help pass this bill?

1) Submit written testimony to the Judiciary Committee letting the committee members know you support House Bill 1728 and ask them to report the bill out favorably. Send your letter to the Committee on the Judiciary, State House Room 136, Boston, MA 02133

2) Call your state representative and senator and ask that they call the chairmen of the Judiciary Committee expressing their support for HB1728. To call your state representative or state senator, dial 617-722-2000 and ask to be connected to their office.

If you plan on coming to the State House on the day of the hearing, please be in touch with Rebekah Gewirtz at 617-227-9635 x12 or

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

NASW member on Radio Station, WBUR

Adding to the good news we congratulate NASW member Lissa Robins Kapust, LICSW who appeared live on WBUR Radio, Friday June 26. Lissa is the Program Manager of the Cognitive Neurology Unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

The broadcast explored elders’ driving and the alternatives when they can no longer drive. In the wake of several serious accidents by elderly drivers, lawmakers on Beacon Hill are considering changes to rules regarding seniors and driving, including one that would issue new driving tests to anyone over 85. Another bill makes it easier for doctors to recommend elderly drivers have their licenses revoked. There is debate as to whether or not the Registry of Motor Vehicles should take over screening elders when they apply for a new license.

Ms. Kapust and an environmental professor from MIT spoke about the challenges of the transportation infrastructure of MA and the US as a whole. She noted the difficulties for elders to get around and do simple things like get an ice cream without a driver’s license. It was noted that removing driving privileges should be a conversation that is addressed in a non-crisis time. It should begin when you notice that there have been minor issues like backing into a trash can. The focus of the conversation should be on the medical diagnosis that is impairing an elder’s mobility and the need for safety. The person who cares for the elder most often should have the conversation. Additional resources such as The Ride or private companies can assist in getting elders to and from where they need to go and should be presented as alternative options for the elder.

Congratulations Ruth

We have just learned that National NASW has selected the MA Chapter’s nominee as the recipient of the 2009 Public Elected Official of the year. Representative Ruth Balser from Newton is the Award winner. We are thrilled! She has been a huge advocate for social workers and the causes we believe in since her time in office.

Chapter’s Speaker’s Bureau

Lissa Kapust, the well informed LICSW who appeard on the WBUR radio program described above is part of the Chapter's Expert Speakers' Bureau. This is a wonderful MA Chapter program that makes available to print and broadcast media social workers who are expert in a certain public policy area. Members of the speakers bureau are also called upon to present at a variety of community forums. This is a powerful way to raise the voice of social work and to provide our members with the opportunity to share their knowledge. To be considered for the Chapter’s Speakers Bureau, email your contact information and area of expertise, and we’ll send you materials for you to complete to be considered.