Social Work in Action: December 2022 / January 2023

Action Advances on Improving Access to Mental Health Act

two men on a couch reviewing documents

NASW is pleased to report that two of three provisions of the Improving Access to Mental Health Act (H.R. 2035/ S. 870) are included in section 12 of the discussion draft. These provisions include allowing clinical social workers to provide Part B services to residents of skilled nursing facilities, and allowing clinical social workers to bill for Health and Behavior Assessment and Intervention Services.

“We have taken an array of actions to influence what provisions were included in the SFC (Senate Finance Committee) bills, including (several) letters,” NASW stated in a blog post, There is progress on advancing the Improving Access to Mental Health Act. “We also mobilized NASW Chapters and members and worked in coalition with other organizations.”

All three provisions of the Improving Access to Mental Health Act also are included in the Health Equity and Accountability Act (H.R. 7585/S. 4486). NASW will continue to provide regular updates as the Senate develops its comprehensive mental health and substance use disorder legislation, and will call on social workers to help ensure these important provisions are enacted into law.

NASW Files Comments on Federal Regulations That Impact Social Work

As part of NASW’s advocacy efforts on behalf 
of the social work profession, the association has submitted comments to the federal government addressing the following topics:

  • Strengthening primary health care
  • Medicare reimbursement for home health services
  • End-stage renal disease payment and treatment
  • Medicare Advantage
  • Medicare Physician Fee Schedule for calendar year 2023
  • Health care nondiscrimination protections under the Affordable Care Act
  • Mental health and substance use well-being in relation to climate change and health equity
  • Insurance Program, and the Basic Health Program
  • Promoting efficiency and equity within programs of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
  • Advanced explanation of benefits and good faith estimates (implementation of the No Surprises Act).

Visit NASW's Comments, Statements & Sign-On Letters page to read the comments and learn about other NASW advocacy efforts at the federal level.

Latest Marijuana Possession Policy Needs State Support

President Joe Biden recently stated his administration will pardon individuals who have been convicted in federal court of simple possession of marijuana. However, the vast majority of those arrested, convicted and incarcerated for possession of marijuana are decided in state criminal legal systems, says a blog post, White House Move to Decriminalize Marijuana at federal level should be followed by states, written by Mel Wilson, former senior policy adviser at NASW. 

Recent FBI data regarding low-level marijuana possession as a crime shows there was one marijuana arrest every 90 seconds in this nation in 2020. Nationally, there were more than 315,000 marijuana possession arrests in 2020, accounting for one out of three drug arrests. 

Despite the fact people of all races sell drugs at similar rates, people who are Black are 3.64 times more likely than those who are white to be arrested for a marijuana offense. It is no secret that overcriminalization across the board has been endemic in the United States for years. It is therefore encouraging that in his announcement, President Biden acknowledges the significant harm caused by criminalizing people for minor marijuana offenses, Wilson said. 

“While we all applaud his new pardon policy, the president’s statement that he is in favor of removing marijuana from being a Schedule I drug is more significant,” Wilson wrote.

cover of December 2022 / January 2023 issue

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