3/20/2020

Dear GPA Members,

You have been on my mind constantly during the last week. I know many of us have experienced a full range of emotions as we face unprecedented circumstances. Many of you have shared useful information on the Premium Listserv, as well as providing humorous levity at a time that can feel dark and heavy. I am thankful to be a part of such a generous, supportive, and resourceful community of psychologists.

We are actively reading your emails and monitoring the GPA Premium Listserv. We hear your concerns. While we are not responding to individual emails, please know we are very aware of many of your urgent needs to support your patients, students, and businesses. The Board of Directors is meeting tomorrow morning and will be discussing the many issues facing the organization and Georgia psychologists.

Below, I’d like to give you this week’s updates.


Continuing Education Guidelines

The Georgia State Board of Examiners of Psychologists met this morning and approved the following:

IN PERSON CE HOURS REQUIREMENT WAIVED FOR THE DECEMBER 31, 2020 EXPIRATION DATE/RENEWAL CYCLE

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, notwithstanding any other rule or provision of law, and pursuant to OCGA § 43-39-15: The requirements of in person attendance or participation for obtainment of continuing education hours for the 2020 renewal cycle are hereby waived.
All continuing education hours must be obtained, but the hours may be obtained online, through webinars, SKYPE, ZOOM or other electronic means.

In light of today’s decision, GPA will be making more decisions about its plans for Continuing Education opportunities and the Annual Meeting. We will likely have more information to share in the next week.


Update on Information from DCH and Insurance Companies

We coordinated with APA and sent letters to DCH and CMOs about covered telehealth. In particular, we have asked about covered codes, needed modifiers, and allowable locations for both the patient and psychologist. DCH provided a Telehealth guidance for Medicaid/PeachCare for Kids®/Fee-for-service Providers with particular COVID-19 guidance and has also referenced their 2020 Telehealth Guide. Our initial feedback suggests that the CMOs are following DCH guidance. Today and over the next days, we will be expanding our efforts to include private insurance payers and following up with the CMOs. We will be sharing more information, as we receive it.
Telehealth Across State Lines

Some you have asked about rule changes that would allow GA psychologists to practice in other states. It is important to remember that state boards can vote on waivers or variances of their own rules and regulations, but they cannot waive other states’ rules and regulations. Therefore, the Georgia board does not have the authority to authorize Georgia psychologists’ practice in another state. If you need to provide services to clients who are in other states, please check their Board of Psychology website or the ASPPB website for Temporary Interjurisdictional Telepsychological Practice & COVID19 for information about temporary licensure. Some states may permit temporary licensure but for a limited time; there may be an associated fee.


Resources to Support Telehealth Practice

1. APA has developed new resources that psychologists can use for telehealth. These documents have been reviewed by several practicing psychologists and APA attorneys. These files are linked below for your immediate use:


2. GPA's Susan Litton also created Guidelines for Choosing a Video Platform outlining major decision points for components needed to start telehealth to orient those unfamiliar with telehealth.

3. APA also provides information on HIPAA-conforming telehealth platforms in “ Comparing the Latest Telehealth Solutions.” This article is like a Consumer Reports review of 3 popular telehealth platforms: Doxy.me, thera-link, and Zoom. Ratings are based on privacy/security, features, ease of use, functionality, and customer support.


Information for Students, Training Programs, and Internship Programs

APPIC has provided some Question and Answer Guidance for interns, training programs, and university training directors related to COVID-19 and handling internship requirements.
 
The APA Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation (OPCA) has also provided guidance to academic and training programs.


Additional GPA and APA COVID-19 Resources

Both GPA and APA have dedicated COVID-19 resource pages. In particular, I call your attention to the APA Pandemic Resource Page which contains many excellent resources.


Support of Our Members

We know that taking care of ourselves is critical during this period. To that end, Rabia Subhani-Siddique, has graciously offered to hold a couple of free, online mindfulness sessions for GPA members. We will be getting more information to you about this in the near future.


Thank You!

There are many people working behind the scenes to help support all of you. I would like to specifically thank the GPA staff - Gayle Spears, Staci Bratcher, Hannah Steinberg, and Anita Brown - for their tireless support. Susan Litton, Becky Beaton, Tina Caudill, Kyle Raque, and Sean Hirt have also been putting in many hours to address concerns about telehealth and insurance issues. In addition, I am personally thankful to Rachel Kieran (Presdient Elect) and Dora Soublis (Past President) for their counsel. Many members of the Board of Directors and Finance Committee have also put in extra effort and will assist in important decision making. We will surely be calling on many more of you in the coming weeks – this takes all of us.

We plan to keep in touch with you and will share information as it becomes available to us in this ever changing world.

Be Well,
Laura Dilly, PhD
President, Georgia Psychological Association