Hello Valued Members,
This page was last updated 3/30/2020.
With the Covid-19 virus updates, we too want to keep you updated and in-the-know with the most current information. There are a lot of questions about how to best respond to this pandemic as well as how to address continued practice through the changing times. IMHCA wants to be a resource to you all and create a one-stop for all your telehealth and Covid-19 needs. The following newsletter will do just that.
Here is a link to the guidelines from the CDC on decreasing the likelihood of contamination. We have found the following blog which has a very comprehensive response with questions and answers for your practice and Covid-19 from Miranda Palmner with Zynnyme.
Guidelines from Optum:
WELLMARK: see attachment as of 3/24/2020Virtual
From Wellmark 3/25/2020 to IMHCA:
We ask that you direct any of your Association members with questions about Wellmark’s policies on telehealth, or reimbursement to: https://www.wellmark.com/
Telehealth Training options (these are not required, but are best practice):
The National Council has compiled a reference document that includes details on these changes and more, titled “Best Practices for Telehealth During COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.” This document is intended to provide mental health and substance use treatment providers with the background and resources necessary to help begin or expand the use of telehealth.
National Coucil updates for behavioral health is a great resource for knowing what’s coming in mental and behavioral health recommendations and requirements:
Useful link for state rules and regulations:
Here is a free app a lot of counselors use to examine Telemental health laws in each state: https://www.ebglaw.com/telemental-health-laws-app/
Here is a link to the law the governor enacted in 2018 allowing us to practice telemental health in Iowa. And a subsequent article about this. Please keep in mind that laws and insurance regulations are separate issues and you need to explore your contract with each payer/insurance company.
Here is a an AMHCA article: https://www.amhca.org/blogs/joel-miller/2020/03/12/the-coronavirus-and-covid19-resources-on-what-you
And list from the AMHCA forum of possible platforms to explore if needed:
This next section is no longer relevant, but I will leave it for information after the HIPPA regulations adjust back. Click here for up to date information on HIPPA cpmpliance. Updates were posted on 3/20/2020 and 3/24/2020.
Regardless of what platform you choose, make sure that you sign a business associate agreement (BAA) document with the platform service and keep it on file. Unfortunately, many counselors mistakenly use a platform such as Zoom, Skype, etc. the they read is HIPPA-compliant and just run with it, but they are, in fact, breaking the law because (a) the HIPPA-compliant version of the platform usually costs a lot of money, and they are relying on the free/low-cost non-HIPPA version, and (b) it’s not compliant if no BAA was signed. AMHCA just released its new 2020 Code of Ethics, and I strongly recommend reading and understanding Section B6 before providing telehealth sessions (https://www.amhca.org/publications/ethics
CHECK YOUR LIABILITY INSURANCE:
“Our research team published a comprehensive guide on online therapy with the goal of helping people better understand what it is, when it can help, and what to watch out for. I want to share it with you because I believe it would be something you would be interested in. We examined the leading online therapy services based on therapist credentials and certifications, HIPAA-compliance, and video and text services offered. You can find our guide here:”
Aaron Norton, an AMHCA member has a list of resources and articles here too: https://app.box.com/v/CounselingTech
Please submit feedback or ideas for this post to email@example.com. I will try my best to keep it updated.
Courtney Ackerson, LMHC