Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Day at the State House: giving and hearing testimony

Wednesday, June 24, hearing room B2 was filled with mental health clinicians and advocates.  Two bills of specific interest to the social work community were being heard.  The first bill was one filled by SEIU Local 509 on behalf of Clinicians United.  The bill would create state action immunity for providers (Private Practice Mental Health Clinicians), who choose to engage in joint negotiations with insurance providers on issues such as: reimbursement rates; determination of medical necessity; and other conditions of coverage.  NASW testified in favor of this bill.  We are working on several levels  (locally and nationally) to increase the reimbursement rates of clinical social workers  and this bill is in line with NASW’s goals.

The second bill,  SB578 - An act relative to mental health certified peer specialists would direct MassHealth to cover mental health services provided by certified peer specialist. The testimony given by people who have experienced mental illness in their own lives and got better with the help of peer specialists (along with different forms of therapy) was compelling and substantive. What eye opening experiences they shared!  The social work community would certainly agree with the findings that the use of peer specialists has become an accepted and proven practice in the provision of mental health services in many states which also reimburse for their services.

Keeping mental health issues in the conversations, hearings and testimonies at the State House is clearly alive and well.

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