TCA Membership Drives Advocacy

If you are not yet a member of the Texas Counseling Association, please consider joining. TCA achieved this advocacy victory by utilizing our members guidance and input. While our efforts support all professional counselors in Texas, TCA members drive our work!

Emergency rule for telehealth and telemedicine services adopted effective immediately.   
Governor Abbott announced on March 17th adoption of an emergency rule governing telemedicine and telehealth services provided by health professionals – specifically including mental health professionals – to reduce barriers to accessing services as a result of the Corona Virus pandemic.

The emergency rule, which can remain in effect for up to 120 days, requires health care plans to reimburse providers delivering services via telemedicine or telehealth at the same rate as in-person visits. In addition, health plans may not limit, deny, or reduce payments based on the platform used by the provider to deliver services, or require documentation beyond what is currently required for in-person visits. 

The emergency rule does not expand coverage beyond what is currently included in an individual’s health care plan or cover services provided before March 17, 2020. The rule allowing health plans to deny payment for services delivered by audio-only telephone, text, or fax remains in effect. However the update from OCR (see below) would allow video chats that could include FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangouts and even Skype. 

Although the Governor’s news release and the preamble to the emergency rules focus on telemedicine, the rule itself specifically includes telehealth services provided by mental health professionals.  

The inclusion of mental health professionals in this emergency rule is a direct result of the coordinated advocacy and collaboration between the Texas Counseling Association, the National Association of Social Workers – Texas, the Texas Association of Marriage and Family Therapists and the Texas Psychological Association. 

For additional information contact [email protected].
OCR Announces Notification of Enforcement Discretion for Telehealth Remote Communications During the COVID-19 Nationwide Public Health Emergency
March 17, 2020

OCR has just released guidance waiving penalties for potential HIPAA violations if providers making a good faith effort to provide health services use apps like FaceTime or Skype. 

ICYMI: Telehealth Resources
Code of Ethics

Licensed Professional Counselors in Texas adhere to the Code of Ethics which allows that “Technological means of communication may be used to facilitate the therapeutic counseling process.” (Title 22. Texas Administrative Code. Section 681.41 (g)). All other rules governing the practice of professional counseling remain in effect whether services are delivered face-to-face or via technology. TCA encourages all LPCs to review the rules on a regular basis to ensure your practice is in compliance. Insurance companies may have additional requirements for reimbursement of telehealth services. You or your client should be sure to contact their insurance provider to confirm coverage.

Telehealth Resources from HPSO
TCA’s affiliated partner, Heathcare Providers Service Organization (HPSO) , has compiled some Telehealth Resources that include:

  • 15 risk control strategies to deliver distance counseling successfully while managing the inherent risks.
  • A self-assessment checklist, selected to focus on telebehavioral health/distance counseling.
  • A case study of a licensing board action in which the counselor failed to obtain informed consent.
  • Links to resources for more information on providing telebehaviorial services in your practice.
Free legal consultations from LegalCare
Members of the Texas Counseling Association can access LegalCare at any time. This is for telephone consultations with an attorney on personal and professional legal questions. Members can access this benefit through their TCA Member's Area.