MMHCA E-Newsletter Archives

Please use the links below to access our quarterly e-newsletters, the MMHCA LifeLines. MMHCA LifeLines keep members informed of our latest programs and activities.

Click here for February Newsletter 2020

Click here for Supplement Newsletter 9 28 2019

Click here for September 2019 MMHCA Newsletter.

Click here for July 2019 MMHCA Newsletter.

Click here for April 2019 MMHCA Newsletter.












MMHCA partners with State of Michigan to create COVID-19 Mental Health Hotline!

MMHCA partners with State of Michigan

to create COVID-19 Mental Health Hotline!!!

You can help!

Please read, complete, and submit this MMHCA Survey by COB Monday, April 6th.

Go to “Survey Monkey” for the Survey:

MMHCA – Michigan Mental Health Counselors Association is directly engaged with MDHHS, our State Lobbyist Andrea Cascarilla, and Governor Whitmer’s office to quickly develop a mental health support component for the State’s COVID-19 Hotline.

MMHCA dedicates this initiative to Representative Isaac Robinson who passed away due to suspected COVID-19 complications.  He was a strong supporter of LPCs and invaluable with passage of HB 4325-PA19 of 2019.

Michigan needs your help! Are you willing and able to provide services to your fellow Michiganders? This may range from crisis hotline volunteering services to client referral for Telehealth therapy.

If you are interested:

Please quickly complete and submit the questionnaire by COB on Monday, April 6th.

Go to “Survey Monkey”

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network want to make it easier for you to care for your patients during the COVID-19 pandemic

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network want to make it easier for you to care for your patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. We also want to encourage our members to continue to seek care with you during this crisis and we want to make them feel safe while doing so. To this end, effective immediately, we are:

• Extending the waiving of member cost-sharing on select telehealth services through at least June 30

• Expanding no cost telehealth services to now include common behavioral health therapy for members with our behavioral health benefits

• Clarifying the specific telehealth services that have no member cost sharing

• Announcing that ALL Blue Cross and BCN members – including all self-funded groups – now have coverage for telemedicine services (those offered by our network providers); most, but not all members also have access to Blue Cross Online Visits’ (operated by Amwell)

The expanded list of no cost telehealth services for members includes the most common medical office visits and hospitalization follow-up visits as well as common behavioral health therapy. To make this easier for our providers, we’ve published a list of codes that have no member cost sharing through June 30, 2020.

These changes apply to:

• Blue Cross PPO (commercial)

• BCN HMOSM (commercial)

• Medicare Plus BlueSM PPO

• BCN AdvantageSM

Telehealth services that are covered under the Blue Cross and BCN Telemedicine Services Medical Policy that are not listed in the attached list of codes, are still covered but will require standard member cost sharing.  A copy of our Telemedicine Services Medical Policy and our telehealth guides are available on our Coronavirus (COVID-19) information updates for providers webpage.  You can find this webpage within BCBSM Newsletters and Resources and BCN Provider Publications and Resources.  While the information within our secure provider website is more comprehensive, information is also available on our public website at Click on For Providers.

Telehealth procedure codes for COVID-19

Governor Announces New Programs to Increase and Expand Unemployment Benefits for Workers Affected by COVID-19

Governor Announces New Programs to Increase and Expand Unemployment Benefits for Workers Affected by COVID-19; Benefits increased for all unemployed workers, expanded to self-employed and low-wage workers

Contact: Jason Moon, 517-282-0041

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer today announced new programs for workers affected by COVID-19. The governor, under the federal CARES Act, signed an agreement between Michigan and the U.S. Dept. of Labor to implement Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Compensation programs that grant benefits to workers who do not already qualify for state unemployment benefits. Workers include self-employed, 1099-independent contractors, gig, and low-wage workers who can no longer work because of the pandemic. The agreement also increases weekly benefits for all unemployed workers by $600 a week for up to four months and extends benefit payments from 26 to 39 weeks.

“The State of Michigan is dedicated to implementing measures to protect the health of all our residents and we understand financial health is critical as we meet this challenge together,” said Whitmer. “This increase and expansion of unemployment benefits will provide a measure of security for Michigan working families who lost their income due to the pandemic. We are committed to ensuring emergency financial relief for unemployed residents who continue to stay home and stay safe.”

The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) will provide additional guidance regarding eligibility and application details in the coming days as it implements these new programs.

Benefits Extended to Self-Employed, Low-Wage, and Other Workers Affected by COVID-19
Under the CARES Act, individuals who are not already eligible for Michigan’s unemployment programs will now be provided a set amount of $600 a week for up to four months on top of the state benefit. Benefits are available for up to 39 weeks. These newly eligible individuals include self-employed workers, independent contractors, low-wage workers and those with a limited work history.

Benefits Increased for All Unemployed Workers
Under the CARES Act, weekly benefits for all unemployed workers will be increased by a set amount of $600 a week for up to four months. This applies to workers already in the unemployment system and eligible employees about to apply. These workers do not need to reapply and those about to apply do not need to take additional steps and should file as usual. If a worker’s application has previously been denied by the UIA in the past three weeks there is no need for them to reapply at this time. They will be notified by the agency with any additional action that may need to be taken.

“We appreciate the patience Michigan residents have shown with the unemployment system over the last few weeks as we continue to provide emergency financial assistance during this historical demand. I want to assure every eligible worker in our state who needs to apply for unemployment benefits that they will receive them,” said Dept. of Labor and Economic Opportunity Director Jeff Donofrio. “We continue to urge workers to apply online at and to utilize our new filing schedule based on their last name. UIA staff is working as hard and fast as they can to process claims and we continue to reallocate resources and upgrade technology to serve our customers.”

The day or time of day in which a claim is filed will not impact whether a worker receives benefits or their benefit amount. Additionally, claims will be back-dated to reflect the date in which a claimant was laid-off or let go from their job due to COVID-19. The eligibility window to apply has also been increased from 14 to 28 days from the date of their work stoppage.

New Filing Schedule:

Online Filing Schedule – Workers are encouraged to go online during off-peak times between 8PM-8AM

  • Last names beginning with letters A-L are asked to file claims on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays.
  • Last names beginning with letters M-Z are asked to file claims on Sundays, Tuesdays, or Thursdays.
  • Saturdays will be available for anyone to accommodate those who could not file during their allotted window.

New application process for Unemployment Insurance by first letter of last name.

Claiming Unemployment Benefits Fact Sheet


How the Workshare Program works

Workshare Program COVID-19 Fact Sheet


Paycheck Protection Program

New Paycheck Protection Program. Application process is not open yet, but you can get prepared by collecting the necessary information now.

SBA Loan with possible $10,000 emergency cash that could be forgiven

NEW SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Streamlined Application Process


Oakland County Stabilization Funds

Application available now for Oakland County Stabilization Funds for Small Businesses. Grants and loans.


IRS Updates

Coronavirus Tax Relief

Gov. Whitmer and MDHHS Launch COVID-19 Volunteer Website

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                              

DHHS Contact: Bob Wheaton 517-241-2112

Governor’s Office Media Contact:


Medical professionals, everyday residents asked to save lives

LANSING, MICH. As Michigan’s healthcare system faces tremendous strains due to the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) are calling on medical professionals and everyday Michiganders to volunteer their talents and time to save lives.

Today Gov. Whitmer and MDHHS launched a new volunteer website,, where trained medical professionals can register to serve their fellow Michiganders by assisting hospitals in fighting COVID-19. Other state residents also can use the site to find out how they can help in their local communities, give blood, donate money or needed medical supplies, or assist public health officials in tracking infections.

“We’ve seen an incredible amount of strength and courage of Michiganders during this time of uncertainty, whether it’s from communities donating food, money, and resources to those that need it or from businesses using their technology to manufacture personal protective equipment,” said Gov. Whitmer. “To bend the curve and slow the spread of COVID-19 in our state, we must all work together as Michiganders. Whether you’re a medical professional looking to volunteer, or someone who can give blood or donate to your local food bank, everyone can help out. We will get through this together.”

This website will serve as a single clearinghouse for Michiganders to join the fight against COVID-19. The state will work with hospitals and health systems that are short-staffed to fill gaps if and when necessary.

Residents with a background in public health, healthcare fields, or community organizing may assist with contact tracing. Contact tracing involves speaking with COVID-19-positive patients to determine the people they interacted with and locations they visited in the days prior to becoming infected.

“The time is now to save lives,” said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon. “Doctors, nurses, medical assistants – please volunteer where we need you most. You can save lives. Michiganders in good health who want to serve seniors who are alone – safely, from a distance – please volunteer. You can save lives, too. If you’re ready to use your cell phone to trace infections to their source, please volunteer. You can save lives, too. Visit”

Easy-to-use-buttons on the website allow users to link to volunteer opportunities in their community, donate or give blood. The Michigan Community Service Commission within the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity is a partner in the new website as the state’s expert at using service as a strategy to address Michigan’s most pressing issues and empowering volunteers to strengthen communities.

The American Red Cross is also partnering with the state on the new site. As the demand for blood remains high during the pandemic, Whitmer and the Red Cross encourage eligible, healthy Michigan donors to go to and schedule an appointment to give in the days and weeks ahead. The Red Cross has implemented COVID-19 mitigation measures at blood drives.

Information around COVID-19 outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at and

# # #

Important Message From Joe Miller, CEO of the American Mental Health Counselors Association

A Message from AMHCA’s CEO

It shows a proactive movement by AMHCA, supported by MMHCA the State Chapter of AMHCA.

March 23, 2020

I hope everyone is doing well given the circumstances.  As we work through this time of uncertainty during this period of COVID-19, you’re not alone. Uncertainty and the sense of not being safe – not to mention the physical distancing, round-the-clock-news and empty grocery shelves – is common around the country.

We’re very mindful of how your email boxes are filled with COVID-19 related messages and we are utilizing our communication channels (website, social media, communities, newsletter, et al) as much as possible to keep from inundating you with too much, while still keeping communication lines open.

We are grateful for all that you –- AMHCA members — and our partners are doing on the ground to support the health, safety, and well-being of people with mental health conditions. The AMHCA team is so proud to be working for you knowing during this crisis, as you are on the frontlines providing critically important treatments and services to vulnerable Americans who suffer from an array of conditions such as depressive, anxiety, panic, PTS, trauma-related, and other mental health disorders. We know that many people with a mental health condition – many with serious mental illness — will see their conditions exacerbate during this period, but reassured that you are there to serve them during this time of additional needs. Clinical mental health counselors are always working for the betterment of mental health and well-being – and the total health of individuals and employ leadership, advocacy, and collaborative skills to promote systemic changes for improved public health.  Never have you been needed more. You are all a treasured American resource.

AMHCA remains committed to doing all we can to support you during this unprecedented time.  We have had in place a virtual business operation for the last two years, so we are in a position to continue to address your needs and promote your interests on many levels.  We have not missed a beat to make sure we continue to provide all the benefits that AMHCA offers uninterrupted and in a timely fashion.

If you have not had an opportunity to visit our website, please click on the following links for AMHCA resources that we have identified to try to help you through this unique period.

Information for You and Your Practice

Information on Tele-Behavioral Health Issues

Also, keep in mind that you can find other AMHCA resources on telemental health by searching our site.

You can further narrow this search by content, webpage, community and type of resource.

In addition, to make things easy, we have identified several resources below (some embodied in the links above) but we thought it would be helpful to include them in this email as one-stop shop for your convenience.

I have been thinking over the last couple of days what I can say at the conclusion of this message that can be reassuring and profound, but I can only think about these things:

“We all are in this together” – watchwords of this period for our coronavirus response.

Be Considerate:  Tell your clients, family, friends and neighbors not to hoard food, paper products, and hand sanitizer. Hoarding is not an effective American response.  It can put all of us at risk for infection.  Share fairly.

Be Risk Adverse:  The closing of restaurants, bars, and stores will increase the temptation to “get together” with family and friends, “just to get out of the house or apartment”.  Resist the risk.

Be Gregarious:  Call, email, and text families, friends, long-lost relatives frequently (and clients you have not heard from).  They need your continuing support at this difficult time. Make a list of family and friends to contact each day and set aside an hour to do so. Defeat social isolation. 

Be Together:  During these socially distanced days, you need more touch than usual with your touchable loved ones.  Make it a house rule that everyone gets a 20-second hug every two hours.  Practice human contact.   For those alone at home, if you are on Skype, Facetime, etc. – please make lots of eye contact.

Be Safe.  Be Healthy.


Joel E. Miller

Executive Director and CEO

American Mental Health Counselors Association

Archived Proposed Medicaid Policy Distributed for Public Comment and Consultation Summaries 

Archived Proposed Medicaid Policy Distributed for Public Comment and Consultation Summaries

Archived proposed Medicaid policy distributed for public comment and consultation summaries are available electronically upon request. If you would like to view historical versions of proposed Medicaid policy that were released for public comment or you would like to obtain a consultation summary of any bulletin, e-mail with your request. Please identify the project number of the proposed Medicaid policy or consultation summary if known. If this information is unknown, reference the month, year, and subject of the bulletin or the consultation summary in your request. The documents will be e-mailed to you.

NOTE: Comments will not be accepted for proposed Medicaid policy after the public comment period has closed.

Notices of Proposed Policy

Comment Due Date Notice Number Subject
April 24, 2020 2021-Telemedicine COVID-19 Response:  Telemedicine Policy Expansion; Prepaid Inpatient Health Plans (PIHPs)/Community Mental Health Services Programs (CMHSPs) Implications
April 22, 2020 2018-F2F COVID-19 Response: Relaxing Face-to-Face Requirement
April 21, 2020 2009-PACE Financial Eligibility for the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE)
April 16, 2020 1944-Telemedicine General Telemedicine Policy Changes; Updates to Existing Policy; Federally Qualified Health Center and Rural Health Clinic Policy Changes
April 16, 2020 2006-BHDDA Opioid Health Home (OHH)
April 15, 2020 1945-CoCM Coverage of Psychiatric Collaborative Care Model Services
April 15, 2020 2008-DMEPOS Reimbursement for Custom Fabricated Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Wheelchair Seating when Beneficiary Dies Prior to Delivery
April 14, 2020 2007-BHDDA Behavioral Health Home (BHH)
April 8, 2020 2005-SBS Behavioral Health Telepractice
April 8, 2020 2004-Hospital Rural Access Pool Restoration and Critical Access Hospital Reimbursement

MDHHS Proposed Medicaid Policies for Telemedicine

MDHHS banner with logo no names

The following proposed policy has been issued for public comment:

  • 2021-Telemedicine – COVID-19 Response:  Telemedicine Policy Expansion; Prepaid Inpatient Health Plans (PIHPs)/Community Mental Health Services Programs (CMHSPs) Implications.

Comments may be forwarded to the e-mail or address noted on the policy’s transmittal sheet.

Proposed Medicaid policies may be accessed here on the MDHHS website.

MMHCA Statement in Response to Governor Whitmer’s Order Today to “Stay Home, Stay Safe”

MMHCA STATEMENT in Response to Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order to Today to “Stay Home, Stay Safe”, 3/23/20 (link below):

Jim Blundo, Executive Director of MMHCA
“Attention members and friends. MMHCA’s statement may contradict other things you have heard. Our information has been vetted by many sources. MMHCA takes good care to make sure our advice is not only timely but also accurate.

We don’t have anything regarding LPCs specifically referenced in the Governor’s statement today. The federal CISA guidelines really only talk about frontline workers and more so in the hospital setting. Social workers are referenced there but not LPCs. The Governor’s Stay at Home Order details what you can and can’t do. It clearly states that “any businesses that are not necessary to sustain or protect life must temporarily suspend in-person operations.” Given she’s authorized Telemental Health (Please consult the article posted from Donna Craig JD regarding appropriate permission for providing Telemental Health in link below).

We think unless someone’s life is endangered (suicidal, etc) the practice should not be to continue with in-person sessions.

In order to make sure you understand the dire situation, we are sharing some statistics the Governor used in her rationale for the Stay at Home order.”

The state now has 1,232 confirmed cases of COVID-19, up from 1,035 confirmed as of Sunday. Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief medical executive, said the number of deaths in Michigan from the disease has hit 15, up from eight Sunday morning.

If the state stays on its current trajectory, 70 percent of Michigan residents will get the disease, or 7 million people. One million will need hospitalization.

The state has only 25,000 acute care beds.

“Too many people are still out and about unnecessarily,” Ms. Whitmer said at a news conference. “So we must do more.”

Link for the source to the official federal government’s guidelines Michigan is following.…/1fHwj8MxwnFd4xxWKsM1J_wAon…/view…

Link for the Governor’s Executive Order to “Stay Home, Stay Safe” –…/0,9309,7-387-90499_90640-522625-…

Link to Donna Craig’s (Attorney who works with MMHCA) article regarding permission to provide Telemental Health.…/…

The Pros and Cons of Telehealth for Therapists (taken from CPH and Associates)

The Pros and Cons of Telehealth for Therapists

(Taken from CPH and Associates: Go to for more information and to sign up for Liability Insurance. AMHCA and MMHCA recommended.)

Although therapists have been using Technology Assisted Counseling (TAC) for quite a while now, professional laws, rules and ethics are finally starting to catch up.

TAC can be referred to in numerous ways such as telehealth, teleconferencing, video conferencing and more.  TAC or telehealth encompasses phone and video sessions, email, and texts.  This blog will be focusing on phone and video sessions specifically.

There are important factors to consider when deciding to implement TAC as part of the services you offer.  First and foremost, you should refer to your professional ethics as a guide.  You should also refer to your state board laws and rules on the topic as they can vary from state to state.

In some states like Georgia, clinicians are required to have a certain amount of training prior to offering online counseling services.  In Georgia, clinicians are also required to receive CEUs on an on going basis for TAC.

When deciding to utilize telehealth services, make sure to review these questions:

  1. What are the best practices regarding TAC?
  2. What are the pros and cons of TAC?
  3. What are the essentials clinicians must include in their online counseling consent?

Best Practices Regarding TAC

When we look at AMHCA ethical code, it recommends first doing an initial face to face session with a client whenever possible.

It is also recommended to do an assessment to assure the client is a good candidate for telehealth.  A good candidate for TAC services would be someone who is comfortable navigating technology fairly easily.   Another factor of being a good candidate would be someone who is not in need of a higher level of care or is expressing imminent suicidal or homicidal risk.

The Pros and Cons of TAC

There are pros and cons for both the therapist and the client when using TAC.

Let’s first take a look at the pros and cons for clinicians.

Pros for Clinicians

  1. You aren’t tied down to an office, and it can reduce overhead costs by not having an office.
  2. There is a greater ability to expand your reach and help more clients.
  3. If you provide online counseling out of your home, you can write off a portion of your expenses.
  4. You can create your ideal schedule to align with your dream lifestyle and private practice.
  5. You can work just about anywhere, as long as you have a computer and wifi.
  6. Many clients are seeking the convenience of TAC.
  7. You can practice wherever and whenever you want.  As long as you are licensed in the state the client resides.

 Cons for Clinicians

  1. Sometimes technology is, well, not always cooperative.   Like losing wifi for 3 hours when it just worked earlier in the day.
  2. You can lose some of the vital aspects of therapy by reduced ability to see and hear all the verbal and non-verbal communication of your client.
  3. Although you can assure your clients confidentiality on your end you can’t assure that your client is doing the best job to maintain their confidentiality.  You must educate them to ensure their own confidentiality.  This is part of having a conversation prior to starting TAC services to see if you client is well suited for TAC.
  4. Since the client isn’t in your office you can’t control the environment.  Your client might have interruptions during your session like dogs barking or kids running around in the background.

Pros for Clients

  1. The ability to have therapy in a place they are most comfortable.
  2. If you have clients who are homebound, don’t drive, or can’t make it to an office for a variety of reasons, this provides an excellent alternative.
  3. Reduces drive time for clients, creating more convenience for them, saves time and on gas.
  4. It creates more opportunities to schedule with their therapist.  If they can’t make it back and forth to the office for a 1-hour appointment with drive time this is a great alternative to make that appointment happen.
  5. Many insurances are starting to pay for online counseling services, so clients can use insurance benefits.  It is recommended that you check with each individual insurance provider to see what the insurance covers.
  6. If your client has to travel out of the area they can still attend sessions.
  7. The opportunity to do real time monitoring with clients can be a priceless therapeutic tool.

Cons for Clients

  1. Issues with technology, can interrupt valuable session time.  You can lose connectivity right in the middle of something important your client is saying.
  2. The cable company can be working down the street and the internet goes completely out.   This is why it is important to have alternate options like hopping on a phone session.
  3. Things occurring in their environment can distract clients.
  4. When it comes to phone sessions the therapist can’t see certain important non-verbal cues.  The therapist might have to ask the client to describe their feelings, thoughts and actions in more detail then in a face to face session.
  5. Clients may not always be the best at protecting their own confidentiality.

What Clinicians Need to Have in Their Consents Regarding TAC

1. Logistics – You will want to layout the logistics of your session from HIPAA compliant platforms, how the client should get into the session, what time the session will be, and what to do in the case of a technology glitch.

2. Confidentiality – Since clients aren’t seeing you in your office, you cannot protect confidentiality on their end.  You need to assist them to find ways they can increase their own confidentiality.  It is recommended that the client be in a quiet place with a locked door if others are around.  It is also recommended that clients use headphones.

3. Practicing – Clinicians must be licensed in the state where the client resides.

4. Connectivity – There should be a protocol if connectivity is lost during session time.  There should be alternate ways to complete the session.

5. Payment – You want to assure you discuss payment for sessions and how payment will be taken for TAC.

6. Cancellation Policy – Assure your cancellation policy is written out and also verbally stated to the client.  This is a proactive measure that can avoid a lot of headache when a cancellation does occur

7. Emergencies – What is your policy in case of client emergencies?  Remember, if you are doing TAC with a client out of area and you call 911 that will do neither you nor the client any good.   It is important to get the number of the local police department where you client is EVERY time.  It is also recommended to have an emergency contact.

8. Consent – assure you review the TAC specific consent with the client and have them sign it.

This blog was brought to you by Kate and Katie of The Private Practice Startup.   Click the following links for more information on their Customizable Attorney Approved Private Practice PaperworkTechnology Assisted Counseling Consent, and grab a copy of the HIPAA form for FREE.

(Taken from CPH and Associates: Go to for more information and to sign up for Liability Insurance. AMHCA and MMHCA recommended.)

Telehealth Article by MMHCA Attorney, Donna Craig, and Important Request From James Blundo



Jim Blundo, Executive Director of MMHCA

“I implore you to join MMHCA as we continuously work to protect and increase your ability to practice and survive during this pandemic and beyond.” Please sign up today at:

We are keeping you better informed than any other counseling association in America. (ACA, MCA, AMHCA, NBCC, ASCA, ETC.)

Please follow us on Facebook and/or our website. Thousands of you already participate on Facebook. You will see our connection with Governor Whitmer’s office, Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Michigan Legislators, Blue Cross, CPH Liability Insurance, Health and Human Services, etc. Browse all of the information available to help you make educated choices.

We have also held over 50 workshops on Human Trafficking with over 3000 participants. We have been recognized for this powerful workshop. Watch for our first webinar on Human Trafficking.

Our other workshops planned include: Trauma Recovery, Integrated Care, Ethics and the Law, Telehealth Training, Private Practice Development, Supervision training, etc. Some of these will become Webinars.

Once the Pandemic is under control we will resume our monthly Breakfast Networking Events across the state that keep you informed of the latest.

Last year, MMHCA was awarded the best Mental Health Counselors Association in America by AMHCA.

Acuitas LLC, our lobbyist firm headed by Andrea Cascarilla, helped us pass Public Act 96 2019 along with Dr. Sarah Sue Schaeffer, and Dr. Irene Ametrano.



Attorney, Donna Craig, who works with MMHCA, has just written an important document on Telehealth. Who else has a top notch attorney representing counselors in Michigan?



Telehealth Services Between Health Care Providers and the Public During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

Posted by Donna Craig, JD – in March, 2020

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Health and Human Services has issued a telehealth Notice during this COVID-19 public health emergency.  During the current public health emergency OCR will exercise its enforcement discretion and will not impose penalties for noncompliance with HIPAA Rules if  healthcare providers provide telehealth services through remote communication technologies.  It should be clear that the relaxation of enforcement is only during this public health emergency.  Healthcare providers should monitor the situation to determine when such public health emergency is no longer in effect.

OCR will allow healthcare providers to use audio or video communication technology to provide telehealth services if such technology is a non-public facing remote communication product.  OCR has specifically stated that Facebook Live, Twitch, TikTok and similar video communication applications are public facing and should not be used by healthcare providers.

While OCR and The Health Law Center do not endorse or certify any particular application that allows for video chats, in its Notice, OCR has cited some applications which may be used without risk of penalty during this public health emergency, such as Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangouts video and Skype.  OCR’s Notice also included names of vendors that are HIPAA-compliant and who will enter into a HIPAA business associate agreement.  These vendors include, Skype for Business, Updox, VSee, Zoom for Healthcare,, and Google G Suite Hangouts Meet.

As a word of caution, healthcare providers should notify patients/clients that even though these video and audio applications have been determined by OCR to be HIPAA compliant, there may still be privacy risks.  The OCR encourages healthcare providers to avail themselves of all available encryption and privacy modes when using such applications.

The Health Law Center has received many questions about this telehealth Notice.  Here are just a few of those questions with some guidance.

  • Will insurance companies pay for telehealth services based on the relaxation of enforcement by OCR? It is not clear.  The best step to take is to review your provider agreement with the insurance company and call each insurance plan you are paneled with and ask if you will be reimbursed for telehealth services.
  • If I didn’t provide telehealth services before, can I provide them now during this public health emergency? Before offering telehealth services for the first time, regardless of the public health emergency, make sure you have addressed this in your Notice of Privacy Practices (NPP).  Your NPP gives patients/clients information on how you will use and disclosure their protected health information (PHI).  If your NPP does not address telehealth services, amend your NPP.
  • How do I ensure that I maintain the confidentiality and privacy of my patients/clients? We are in unprecedented times and there are more questions than answers.  It is best to explain to patients/clients that you are following the OCR’s Notice guidelines but you cannot give guarantees.  Explain what your telehealth application involves and obtain your patients/clients’ consent to use telehealth communication.  A form to obtain your patients/clients informed consent related to telehealth communication should be used.
  • How does OCR’s Notice impact Michigan’s telehealth laws? Since these are unprecedented circumstances and this is a fluid situation, and each healthcare provider’s circumstances differ, The Health Law Center cannot give specific direction.  Each situation would need to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.  Given that, The Health Law Center urges healthcare providers to follow the guidance of OCR’s Notice, have candid discussions with your patients/clients regarding your telehealth communication application and the confidentiality of their information, review your NPP to determine if it allows you to provide telehealth services, and obtain informed consent from your patients/clients to engage in telehealth communication.

During this public health emergency, if you have any questions regarding telehealth communications, contact The Health Law Center for  legal guidance.

For More Information Go to:  The OCR Webpage

What other organization represents you better and saved our counseling profession?

We have your back. Please have ours. We need your membership to continue efforts to strengthen our profession and progress to making a living wage. Our lobbyists continue to position us to have a direct impact on Michigan Public Policy.

Our strategic plan is only as strong as your membership.

In my 40 years as a counselor, I have never been part of a more progressive and action-oriented mental health counselors association. Have you?

There is no comparison. You receive all of this and more for $100 per year.

Please sign up today at: