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News & Press: NASW-Michigan News

COVID-19 and Michigan Social Workers: An Update

Friday, March 13, 2020   (1 Comments)
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Please scroll to the bottom of this page for the most recent updates.


Dear NASW-Michigan members,


As we continue to monitor the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), we recognize the impact it may have on your work, clients, communities and personal lives. Your health and safety and that of the populations you serve are at the forefront of our values. NASW-Michigan remains a devoted and available resource during this time of uncertainty.


It is within your capacity as social workers to help clients and communities confront anxiety, navigate the healthcare system and connect clients with vital services they need to remain cared for. This work is especially important in vulnerable populations including newborns, the elderly and immunocompromised people. While Michigan is under a state of emergency, large events are canceled, travel is restricted and operations transition to virtual platforms, NASW-Michigan remains eager to advocate for its members and mitigate health risks for all populations.


Following the guidance of the state and federal government, NASW-Michigan has made the following changes to our upcoming programs:

  • ALL workgroup and committee meetings will be held virtually or by phone-in session.
  • The following web-based events will continue as planned:
    • Private Practice Q&A Call-in Session on March 18Session will include a brief discussion on the COVID-19 coronavirus and implications for private practice.
    • How to Obtain Your Social Work License in Michigan (Webinar) on March 24: This webinar will prepare graduating students to navigate the licensure process in Michigan and provide an overview of the ASWB exam.
  • The following events are canceled:
    • Capitol Action Day on March 19.
    • Social Work Month NASW Night with the Detroit Pistons on March 20.
    • Social Work Student of the Year award ceremonies.
      • West Michigan on March 24
      • North/Central on April 2
      • Southeast Michigan on April 9

We want to thank the social workers who were involved in the planning of these events and those who planned to attend. Please continue to check the NASW events calendar for continued updates.


NASW-Michigan is seeking clarification and advocating on the following issues as it relates to COVID-19 and social work practice:

  • Concerns about other continuing education courses being canceled throughout the state before the April 30 renewal date.
    • *A reminder that licensed social workers may earn up to half (22.5) of the required continuing education through alternative learning methods (ex: pre-recorded webinars, homestudy books, etc).
  • Coordination of care between school social workers and their clients.

Many members have reached out seeking clarification on telehealth services, and we are excited to share the recently released Proposed Medicaid Policy Bulletin that will help improve access to behavioral health services for your clients. We encourage you to review these policies so that you are abreast of changes that affect you and your clients and provide comments as needed. 

  • 1944-Telemedicine: The purpose of this bulletin is to update program coverage of telemedicine services including the definition, consent requirements, privacy and security requirements, allowable originating sites, distant site procedures, and billing and reimbursement. It also outlines specific telemedicine considerations for Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Rural Health Clinics (RHCs). The proposal allows for the home of the beneficiary, along with numerous other locations, to be an originating site.

Additionally, we are asking for your support and activism during this time of uncertainty in our communities. If you know of any resources in your local area, please share them with us on our chapter Facebook page (pinned post) or on one of our regional Facebook pages.


Please take the necessary precautions to stay healthy and care for your well-being following guidelines put forth by the Centers for Disease Control. For more updates and information regarding COVID-19, we recommend the CDC’s website, accessing the National Association of Social Workers Coronavirus resource list and for Michigan-related updates, the state of Michigan’s website directly addressing COVID-19.

Please contact us with any questions.


Maxine Thome, PhD, LMSW, ACSW, MPH

Executive Director. NASW, Michigan Chapter


COVID-19: Legislative and Social Policy Update (March 16, 2020)



As many of you are aware information is rapid and constantly changing regarding the Coronavirus. NASW-Michigan remains a devoted and available resource during this time of uncertainty and will continue working hard to keep you abreast via email, and social media on changes across the state.


Below you will find some of the most recent changes made across the state of Michigan being put into place to help mitigate COVID-19.


MDHHS has worked around the clock to setup a hotline which now live regarding the Coronavirus. Public health and other experts will answer health-related questions about COVID-19 and also direct residents and providers to the right resources in their local communities and in other state government departments.


The hotline will be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1-888-535-6136.


Please remember when you distribute information to use web links so we can keep the information fresh with any developments.

For Health Care Providers: Health Alert Network: Interim guidance on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at and


Whitmer To Order Bars, Restaurants Closed As Of 3 P.M.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer will order all bars and restaurants in Michigan close at of 3 p.m. today other than for carryout and delivery of food in another step to combat the spread of the new coronavirus.


Packed bars in advance of St. Patrick's Day have raised major alarms that many members of the public are not taking seriously warnings from the government and health experts to socially distance themselves to slow the spread of COVID-19. Sunday, Ms. Whitmer said she was disturbed by photos of crowded bars.


Whitmer Orders Bars, Theaters, Gyms, Most Public Spaces Closed

Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued a sweeping executive order today closing not just bars and restaurants other than for delivery and carryout, but also shuttering cafes, coffee houses, clubs, movie theaters, indoor and outdoor performance venues, gyms, fitness/exercise studios, spas and casinos.


Restaurants can still offer food and beverage through delivery, drive-through, walk-up and window service. Restaurants may allow only five people inside at a time to pick up orders and they must stay six feet apart.


These restrictions do not apply to the following locations: office buildings, grocery stores, markets, food pantries, pharmacies, drug stores and providers of medical equipment and supplies, health care facilities, residential care facilities, congregate care facilities, juvenile justice facilities, warehouse and distribution centers and industrial and manufacturing facilities. The order takes effect at 3 p.m. today and lasts until 11:59 p.m. March 30.


"This disease is a challenge unlike any we've experienced in our lifetimes," Ms. Whitmer said in a statement. "Fighting it will cause significant but temporary changes to our daily lives. By practicing social distancing and taking aggressive action now, the state is working to mitigate the spread of coronavirus so we reduce the risk that our healthcare system becomes overwhelmed. This is about saving lives. Michiganders are tough and we are going to get through this, but it will require everyone doing their part. That means making smart choices and not putting yourself or others at risk by going out in public unless it is absolutely necessary."

Several recently released Proposed Medicaid Policy Bulletins listed below aim to help improve access to behavioral health. We encourage you to review these policies so you are abreast of changes that affect you and your clients and provide comments as needed, especially during these uncertain times.

1944-Telemedicine: The purpose of this bulletin is to update program coverage of telemedicine services including the definition, consent requirements, privacy and security requirements, allowable originating sites, distant site procedures, and billing and reimbursement. It also outlines specific telemedicine considerations for Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Rural Health Clinics (RHCs). The proposal allows for the home of the beneficiary, along with numerous other locations, to be an originating site.


2006-BHDDA - Opioid Health Home (OHH): This policy will implement the Opioid Health Homes in Michigan’s PIHP Regions 1, 2 and 9 in addition to Calhoun and Kalamazoo counties in Region 4. These Opioid Health Homes provide for comprehensive care management and coordination of services to Medicaid beneficiaries with an opioid use disorder diagnosis, directing patient-centered care across the broader health care system through the implementation of interdisciplinary teams.


1945-CoCM - Coverage of Psychiatric Collaborative Care Model Services: The purpose of this policy is to increase access for behavioral health services for those with mild-moderate behavioral health conditions within the primary care settings. The Psychiatric Collaborative Care Model (CoCM) is a model of integrated behavioral health services not typically provided within a primary care setting.

2007-BHDDA - Behavioral Health Home (BHH): Behavioral Health Homes increase access to integrated physical and behavioral health services with a goal of increasing access to coordinated care. The policy recalibrates the diagnosis to serve the highest-need beneficiaries with Serious Mental Illness/Severe Emotional Disturbances and expands the initiative to PIHP regions 1, 2 and 8.

2005-SBS - Behavioral Health Telepractice: This policy allows for telepractice for behavioral health services for the School-Based Services and Caring 4 Students programs.


Center on Medicaid and Medicare Services Expands Telehealth Services  ( March 17th, 2020)

CMS has broadened access to Medicare telehealth services so that beneficiaries can receive a wider range of services. 

To read the Fact Sheet on this announcement visit:


To read the Frequently Asked Questions on this announcement visit:

Key Take-Aways for Social Workers: 

  • Licensed Clinical Social Workers can provide teletherapy to beneficiaries if the client is in their home. 

  • Licensed Clinical Social Workers can also see new or existing patients. 

  • Telephone/audio only does not appear to be reimbursable at this time

  • Licensed Social Workers must use a video conferencing platform. 

  • HIPAA requirements are also eased.

OCR Announces Notification of Enforcement Discretion for Telehealth Remote Communications During the COVID-19 Nationwide Public Health Emergency ( March 17th, 2020) 

Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced, effective immediately, that it will exercise its enforcement discretion and will waive potential penalties for HIPAA violations against health care providers that serve patients through everyday communications technologies during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency. 


The Notification of Enforcement Discretion on telehealth remote communications may be found at:



Further Guidance on Michigan Medicaid Telemedicine Policy ( March 19th, 2020) 

The current Michigan Medicaid telemedicine policy update described in MSA 20-09 recognizes telecommunication systems that utilize both audio and visual connections together and ensure privacy and security of Medicaid beneficiaries.

Systems limited to telephonic connection are not supported within this policy. Some Medicaid and Behavioral Health programs may temporarily consider telephonic connections acceptable as the Centers for Disease Control discourages non-essential in-person services to prevent the spread of 2019 Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).

Refer to recently released MSA 20-12 for further guidance on limiting face to face services. 

The current telemedicine policy described in MSA 20-09 includes a range of telemedicine services including CPT 90837. For a complete list of services and billing codes covered within this policy, please see the telemedicine fee schedule on the MDHHS website and use the following navigation to access >> Billing and Reimbursement >> Provider Specific Information >> Physicians/Practitioners/Medical Clinics >> Telemedicine Services.”


Additional resources


SBA offers disaster assistance loans for small businesses impacted by coronavirus

Resources for Michigan Employers and Workers


Loom is a video messaging platform

available to businesses and schools connecting remotely.

They are currently addressing the COVID-19 situation by offering free access.


Showbie and Socrative

Showbie and Socrative are distant learning tools designed to support interactive education, with tools for parental access, school administration and oversight, communication and assessment in place. These platforms work together to setup the educational environment best suited for your classroom and are free through July 31, 2020.


TechSmith Snagit

and TechSmith Video Review

TechSmith is offering its screen recording tool, TechSmith Snagit, and asynchronous collaboration platform, TechSmith Video Review, for free through the end of June 2020 to any organization that needs it. These tools help create and record interactive training materials while providing opportunities for collaborative feedback and communication.

Again, we hope you all stay healthy and safe. Please be sure to care for your well-being and follow guidelines put forth by the CDC. For more updates and information regarding COVID-19, we recommend the CDC’s website, accessing the National Association of Social Workers Coronavirus resource list and for Michigan-related updates, the state of Michigan’s website directly addressing COVID-19. For additional questions regarding state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs (CHIP), please view the Center on Medicaid Services FAQs ensuring that individuals, issuers, and states have clear Information on Coverage Benefits.



Algeria Wilson, MSW

Director of Public Policy

NASW Michigan Chapter



  • How is the ASWB exam affected by COVID-19?

  • NOTICE: Starting Tuesday, March 17, PearsonVue will be suspending test delivery at all U.S.- and Canada-based Pearson VUE-owned test centers for 30 days until April 16.

    NASW-Michigan is advocating to the Board of Social Work and the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to provide the necessary extended eligibility to any of those scheduled to take their exams before the April 30th deadline.

    For those with questions regarding the licensure process please join us for our free webinar from 12-1pm on the 24th. We are also finalizing the dates for our 2020 licensure exam institutes (exam preparation courses) to be held this summer. More information regarding these events can be found at




Judith A. Krause says...
Posted Friday, March 13, 2020
Thanks Max, I will post on the UP site! Judy Krause

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