IMPORTANT MMHCA UPDATE
Since the Michigan Supreme Court issued its ruling on 10/2/2020 striking down the 1945 law which was the basis of the Governor’s declaration of emergency and related executive orders, our authority to do virtual supervision and provide telehealth has been up in the air. MMHCA has been working with both the Governor’s office and the Legislature to seek clarification.
On 10/9/2020, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued a new order which rescinds the order previously issued on 10/5/2020 and which is effective through 10/30/2020. The new order is accompanied by a fact sheet which first defines a workplace gathering as follows: “Gathering means any occurrence where two or more persons from more than one household are present in a shared space. Except for incidental gatherings in a shared space, all gatherings must include 6 feet of social distance between households.”
The fact sheet goes on to say: “Workplace gatherings are prohibited under the following circumstances: it is not necessary to perform job duties; employees not wearing face coverings cannot maintain six feet of distance from others; employees not wearing face coverings occupy the same shared space; if they include any person who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or who is subject to a CDC recommendation to isolate or quarantine.”
Because both a counseling session and a clinical supervision session can fall under this definition of “gathering”, and the order stipulates that such gatherings are “prohibited if not necessary to perform job duties”, this seems to give us some authority as LPC’s/LLPC’s to continue to provide telehealth and to do supervision remotely.
And while legislation has been passed stipulating that Medicaid will continue to reimburse for telehealth, it is not clear what private insurers will do. SB 898 provides for the following: “If a service is provided through telemedicine under this section, the insurer shall provide the same coverage for that service as if the service involved face-to-face contact between the health care professional and the patient.”
At a hearing on 10/7/2020, MMHCA Past-President Napoleon Harrington provided compelling testimony In support of this bill on behalf of MMHCA. Other groups testified against the bill. There was no vote on the bill, and a subsequent hearing will be held, probably after the election.