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96 Percent of Social Workers Want Mobile Technology

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How important is mobile technology in social work? We wanted to learn more so we surveyed members of the National Association of Social Workers and asked two questions, “Do you think mobile technology would help you do your job?” and, “Is mobile technology for social workers a priority for your organization?” The results are in and we found that they confirm our belief in the important role that technology can play in a social worker’s life.

An overwhelming majority of respondents (96%) answered yes to the question, “Do you think mobile technology would help you do your job?” On the flip side, only 55% think that mobile technology is a priority in their organization. This means that while many social workers or supervisors think mobile technology would help social workers perform their jobs, they don’t think their organization is focused on providing the tools they need. This type of conflicting ideology can impact morale and ultimately lead to social worker burnout.

 9 out of 10 social workers think mobile technology will help them do their job  5 out of 10 social workers think mobile technology is a priority for their organization

We firmly believe that mobile tools can help adult and child protective services (CPS) social workers overcome everyday hurdles like these:

1. Time Spent on Paperwork

As one CPS supervisor put it, “You probably spend one-third of your time with families, and two-thirds of your time documenting everything that you’ve done.” Social workers become resigned to losing valuable time trying to work around paper-based processes, having to track down and locate paper files.

2. Accessing Information in the Field

In 2012, worldwide mobile access reached 87%. Between 2011 and 2016, mobile data traffic is expected to grow by 18%. Despite hauling stacks of information with them into the field, sometimes social workers find themselves without the necessary forms or information. Accessibility is not only possible for social workers, it’s critical.

3. Limited Time with Families and Children

CPS caseloads across the country are increasing, but the number of social workers is not. Naturally this leads to spending less time with families and children. This places a heavy burden on agencies and workers, putting families in crisis at even higher risk.

4. Burnout

Social workers are at high risk of burnout and low job satisfaction. Turnover and burnout, while obviously disturbing for social workers, also places a tremendous burden on agencies and the families they serve. Costs of staff turnover are estimated to be between 1/3 and 2/3 of the worker’s annual salary.

5. Data Collection and Quality

The data collection processes and systems created at the state level are designed to collect data in order to meet important state and federal reporting requirements. This often doesn’t sync up with the way social workers work. Because of this, social workers find themselves asking clients to repeat information, which can negatively impact productivity.

We’ve seen that mobile technology designed for social workers can enhance the quality of social work and ultimately give social workers more time to spend with families, which is why social workers became social workers in the first place.

To learn more about how mobile technology can help social workers overcome five common hurdles, download our business brief, 5 Hurdles Blocking Social Worker Productivity and How to Overcome Them.

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Rich Bowlen is Director of Protective Services for Northwoods, a technology company dedicated to improving the lives of caseworkers and social workers. Rich has 25 years serving in child protective services and is known for his passion for improving the lives of children.

          
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Business

Women Have Fundamentally Different Journeys to Financial Wellness, Merrill Lynch Study Reveals

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A new Merrill Lynch study conducted in partnership with Age Wave, “Women and Financial Wellness: Beyond the Bottom Line,” celebrates the progress made by women while examining the financial challenges women still face throughout their lives, and offers potential solutions. The study finds that 70 percent of women believe that men and women have a fundamentally different life journey, reinforcing the need to better understand women’s financial concerns and opportunities. The study is based on a nationally representative sample of 3,707 respondents, including 2,638 women and 1,069 men.

“Women’s life journeys are not only different than men’s, they’re different than the life journeys of our mothers and grandmothers.”

“Women have come a long way both personally and professionally, but when it comes to their finances, there is still a trail left to blaze,” said Lorna Sabbia, head of Retirement and Personal Wealth Solutions for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “As women are at a tipping point to achieve greater financial empowerment and independence, it is even more essential that we support women in helping them pursue financial security for life. This includes encouraging women to invest more of their assets, save earlier for retirement, and pursue financial solutions that closely align to their personal values and life paths.”

Findings include:

Women look beyond the bottom line
While they definitely care about the performance of investments, women view money as a way to finance the lives they want. Seventy-seven percent say they see money in terms of what it can do for themselves and their families. Eighty-four percent say that understanding their finances is key to greater career flexibility. When it comes to investing, about two-thirds of women look to invest in causes that matter to them.1

Superior longevity
Longevity needs to be a factor in everyone’s financial strategy, but more so for women, who on average, live five years longer than men. Eighty-one percent of centenarians are women.2 While 64 percent of women say they would like to live to 100, few feel financially prepared, with 44 percent of women stating they worry they will run out of money by age 80.

Confidence in all but investing
The study finds that women are confident in most financial tasks, such as paying bills (90 percent) and budgeting (84 percent). However, when it comes to managing investments, their confidence drops significantly; only 52 percent of women say they are confident in managing investments, versus 68 percent of men. Millennial women were the least confident at 46 percent. Of women who do invest, their financial confidence soars; 77 percent of women who invest feel they will be able to accumulate enough money to support themselves for life.

A trail left to blaze
The study also finds how important understanding the gender wealth gap (as opposed to the wage gap) and wealth escalators are to women’s financial wellness. Women experience a gender wealth gap – the difference between men’s and women’s financial resources across their lifetimes, including earnings, investments, retirement savings and additional assets. This wealth gap can translate to a woman at retirement age having accumulated as much as $1,055,000 less than her male counterparts.3Contributing factors include:

  • Temporary interruption, permanent impact: Many women experience lasting effects when they take time away from the workforce to provide care, including for aging parents, their own spouses, and their own children. One in three mothers who returned to the workforce after caring for children says she took on less demanding work, which resulted in lower pay. Twenty-one percent say they were paid less for the same work they did previously.
  • Greater lifetime health and care costs: The average woman is likely to have higher health costs than the average man in retirement – paying an additional $195,000 on average4 – due to living longer and having to rely on formal long-term care in later years.

“Women’s life journeys are not only different than men’s, they’re different than the life journeys of our mothers and grandmothers,” said Maddy Dychtwald, co-founder and senior vice president of Age Wave. “We have more opportunities and choices when it comes to family, education and careers, but we’re so busy taking care of other people and other priorities, we often don’t take the time to invest in ourselves and our future financial wellness. If more women can actively take control of their financial future all along the way, it would not only benefit them, but also their families and our society overall.”

Doing more to promote financial wellness
Bank of America’s Global Wealth and Investment Management business serves affluent and wealthy clients through two leading brands in wealth management: Merrill Lynch and U.S. Trust. Advisors specialize in goals-based wealth management, including planning for retirement, education, legacy, and other life goals through investment, cash and credit management.

“In a period of remarkable advances for women in society, a remaining frontier is financial well-being,” said Andy Sieg, head of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. “It’s a basic component in the quality of life. This report lays out a blueprint for helping to achieve it – and we at Merrill Lynch relish the opportunity to provide women everywhere with advice and support that can make a meaningful difference at every stage of their lives.”

Through its advisors, educational offerings and other resources, Bank of America is positioned to help clients overcome the common challenges presented in the study by:

  • Addressing women’s top financial regret: not investing more. Forty-one percent of women say not investing more is their biggest regret. Women cite lack of knowledge (60 percent) and confidence (34 percent) as top barriers.
  • Focusing on disparities in wealth, not just income. Women’s financial security is about more than closing today’s pay gap. It’s about accumulating assets or wealth at all income levels, and increasing women’s access to wealth escalators (e.g., employee benefits such as paid time off and pretax savings opportunities).
  • Breaking the silence about money. Sixty-one percent of women say they would rather discuss details about their own death than talk about their money. Forty-five percent of women report they don’t have a financial role model.

To learn more about women’s financial wellness, read “Women and Financial Wellness: Beyond the Bottom Line.”

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Child Welfare

Exposure to Domestic Violence Costs U.S. Government $55 Billion Each Year

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The federal government spends an estimated $55 billion annually on dealing with the effects of childhood exposure to domestic violence, according to new research by social scientists at Case Western Reserve University.

The results of a study on the national economic impact of exposure to domestic violence—published in The Journal of Family Violence—showed higher health-care costs, higher crime rates and lower productivity in children as they aged.

“This is a significant public-health problem that not only means long-term consequences for these children, but also imposes a substantial financial burden to society,” said Megan R. Holmes, assistant professor and founding director of the Center on Trauma and Adversity at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines intimate partner violence—more commonly known as domestic violence—as any physical violence, sexual violence, stalking and/or psychological aggression perpetrated by a current or former intimate partner.

In the United States, an estimated 15.5 million children each year are exposed to at least one episode of intimate partner violence, with more than 25 percent of children exposed to domestic violence in their lifetime.

The CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey reports that 27.3 percent of women and more than one in 10 men (11.5 percent) have experienced physical violence, sexual violence or stalking by intimate partners at least once in their lives.

Married or cohabiting couples who have children are reported to experience the highest likelihood of domestic violence.

By the time a child exposed to domestic violence reaches age 64, the average cost to the national economy over their lifetime will reach nearly $50,000 across the following main categories, according to the research.

  • Health care: Estimated effects of domestic violence exposure on the use of hospital care and physician and clinical services.
  • Crime: The estimated effect of domestic violence exposure on the lifetime likelihood of violent crime: murder, rape/sexual assault, aggravated assault, robbery.
  • Productivity: The productivity effects of domestic violence exposure stem from a connection to lower educational attainment. Using estimates for the age-specific effects of education on worker earnings, the study calculated the expected earnings detriment associated with exposure to domestic violence.

That includes at least $11,042 in increased medical costs, $13,922 in costs associated with violent crimes and $25,531 in productivity losses.

“And that’s just for one person,” Holmes said. “If we consider Ohio’s young adults, for example, the 172,500 Ohioans who are 20 years old, the cumulative lifetime cost for the estimated 25 percent who were exposed to domestic violence as children will be nearly $2.18 billion. Applied to the entire nation, the economic burden becomes substantial—over $55 billion.”

She said the effects of children’s exposure to domestic violence carry long-lasting consequences—and society picks up the tab.

While much research has been conducted on the effect of domestic violence exposure on short- and long-term outcomes, this is the first study to add a price tag to this public health problem.

“Although we researchers often use words like ‘ground-breaking’ to describe our work, few studies really meet that bar,” said Rebecca J. Macy, editor-in-chief of The Journal of Family Violence and associate dean for academic affairs in the University of North Carolina School of Social Work.

“With their study on the economic burden of children’s exposure to partner violence however, Prof. Holmes and her colleagues have really produced a groundbreaking study.”

By understanding the extent of the costs incurred, policymakers can now reference the economics to push for more effective preventive and therapeutic interventions, Holmes added.

The study was done in coordination with Francisca García-Cobián Richter, research assistant professor; Kristen Berg and Anna Bender, both doctoral candidates, at the Mandel School; and Mark Votruba, associate professor of economics, at the Weatherhead School of Management.

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Health

Why Work Requirements Will Not Improve Medicaid

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One out of every five low-income Americans depends on Medicaid, the national insurance program for the poor jointly run by federal and state governments. Medicaid provides insurance coverage for a broad array of health services from pregnancy care and childhood immunizations to emergency hospitalizations. As the practice of health care has developed, states have applied for waivers under Medicaid’s “Section 1115” program to test new ways of delivering prenatal care, coordinated care for children, and specialized medical treatment for cancer patients.

But in 2018 the Trump administration signaled a major shift in the Medicaid waiver policy. Section 1115 waivers are now being used allow states to require people applying for Medicaid to work or engage in unpaid “community engagement” as a condition of eligibility. Currently, such work requirements for Medicaid are under consideration in twenty states.

Are work requirements for Medicaid a good idea – comparable to the kinds of improvements states have tried under waivers in the past? Medical and social scientific research actually suggests that imposing work requirements is unlikely to improve health outcomes. Even more worrisome, for the three-fifths of Medicaid beneficiaries who are already employed, administrative work requirements are likely to impose barriers to accessing needed healthcare. Because the new work requirements do not further Medicaid’s goal of providing healthcare coverage, they may well violate established Medicaid law.

My research reinforces prior findings that Medicaid work requirements will not make anyone healthier. These rules will create confusing bureaucratic red tape and prevent low-income Americans from getting the care they need. Millions of low-income Americans will pay the price for this attempt by the Trump administration to misapply federal law.

The History of Medicaid

Established in 1965, Medicaid provides health insurance coverage to the elderly, individuals with disabilities, and low-income families. The law as written was meant “to furnish medical assistance” to individuals “whose income and resources are insufficient to meet the costs of necessary medical services.” People who benefit from Medicaid are far less likely than their peers to forego necessary medical care, and a growing body of research shows that Medicaid coverage is associated with lower rates of mortality and increases in access to care and self-reported improvements in health.

Over the years, many improvements in the Medicaid program started at the state level. Under Section 1115, the Secretary of Health and Human Services can allow states to waive certain requirements to experiment with policies that are “likely to assist in promoting the objectives” of the Medicaid Act.

Beginning in the 1990s, states like Minnesota, New York, and New Jersey used waivers to expand coverage to new populations of low-income Americans, control program costs, and improve the quality of care. Nevertheless, because Section 1115 waivers are supposed to promote the objectives of the original Medicaid law, federal officials prior to the Trump administration were reluctant to approve state modifications that would deny potential beneficiaries necessary access to medical care.

Work Requirements Mean More Bureaucracy and Less Health Care

Breaking with tradition, in 2018, the Trump administration advised states that it would approve Section 1115 waivers that required individuals to participate in “employment-related activities,” including paid employment or job training as well as unpaid volunteer work or community service. As of April, nearly 20 states are in the process of developing such waiver applications and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has already approved such waivers in Kentucky, Indiana, and Arkansas.

The results are likely to undercut Medicaid’s basic goals. Although three out of every five able-bodied Medicaid beneficiaries already work or participate in community engagement, new work requirements will create costly and confusing bureaucracy for millions of low-income Americans who will have to periodically recertify their work status with multiple state agencies. People suffering from intense poverty tend to struggle more than others with such burdens. Predictably, many will fail to meet the new paperwork requirements and fall out of the system, even though they still need health insurance. Not only will this outcome directly undermine the basic purpose of Medicaid, applying the new rules will consume time and resources administrators could devote to helping beneficiaries.

Busting the Myth that “Employment Leads to Better Health”  

Policymakers and civic leaders should push back against false Trump administration claims that existing research bolsters the case for new Medicaid work requirements:

  • Trump officials claim that a 2016 study showed that employment is associated with better health outcomes – but the researchers actually noted that unemployment rates “were not significantly associated with life expectancy… in the bottom income quartile.”
  • Officials say that a 2014 study published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine establishes a “protective effect of employment on depression and general mental health.” But those researchers said that they cannot establish a causal link because “positive health effects of employment can be affected by the fact that healthier people are more likely to get and stay in employment.”

Indeed, research supports the opposite of Trump administration claims. Instead of employment automatically improving health, better health actually improves people’s employment prospects. A research summary in Medical Care Research and Review finds that improved health would increase earnings by 15 to 20 percent. Some studies suggest that low-income jobs lead to higher rates of mortality and other bad health outcomes.

A recent Health Affairs report found that participants in a Florida welfare experiment whose benefits were conditioned on workforce participation had a 16 percent higher mortality rate than comparable recipients not subject to work stipulations.

Medicaid was designed as a program to improve the health of poor Americans – and available evidence suggests that it should continue to serve this core purpose – rather than being turned into a cudgel to deny care or force people into bad jobs.

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News

Booking.com and Web Summit Expand Commitment to Women in Tech

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Amsterdam, The Netherlands – 25 APRIL 2018 – Booking.com, one of the world’s largest travel e-commerce companies and a digital technology leader, announced a global partnership with Web Summit. Together they will host a dedicated ‘Women in Tech’ networking and mentoring program at the flagship Web Summit event, as well as initiatives at affiliated events Collison and RISE in 2018. This exclusive collaboration continues Booking.com and Web Summit’s efforts to redress the under-representation of women in technology by creating more opportunities for women to enter, advance and thrive in the sector.

Booking.com will host the first of a number of networking initiatives for women at the Booking.com Women in Tech lounge at Collision 2018, being held in New Orleans, USA, from April 30th-May 3rd, 2018. One of America’s leading technology conferences, Collison brings together CEOs of the world’s fastest growing startups and Fortune 500 companies, alongside leading investors and media. Booking.com CEO Gillian Tans will also participate in a panel on “Sustainability in Big Business”, sharing her insights on the role of major companies in furthering global sustainability and ethical practices.

Web Summit 2018, taking place in Lisbon, Portugal, from November 5th-8th, will be the focal point of the global partnership and will feature an expanded ‘Women in Tech Mentor Program’, following the success of the inaugural initiative at last year’s event. The Web Summit 2017 women’s mentoring program attracted nearly 200 participants, with 60 high-profile mentors from across the tech sector, including Gillian Tans and other Booking.com executives.

RISE 2018 will take place on 9th-12th July 2018 in Hong Kong and is the largest tech conference in Asia. The event attracts more than 15,000 attendees each year from over 100 countries. Booking.com will host the Women in Tech networking lounge at the event.

“We are excited to partner with Web Summit again this year to build on the strong demand and engagement we saw in 2017 and to continue our efforts in driving gender diversity in tech at a global level. Recent data suggests that 90% of women working in technology across the world have experienced gender bias in the workplace and this, coupled with the lack of mentors (48%) and female role models (42%), are the top three obstacles preventing women from choosing to advance their careers in tech,” said Gillian Tans, CEO of Booking.com.

“We are expanding our partnership with Web Summit with marquee events in Europe, North America and Asia to continue the conversations about gender diversity and to support women through mentoring and providing more opportunities for them to collaborate, network and share experiences. This global partnership will give us another platform to help pivot gender inequalities and gaps in the male-dominated tech workplace and encourage more women from across the world to become positive role models for others.”

Web Summit runs the world’s most highly regarded technology events which bring together world leaders, Fortune 500 companies, tech giants and groundbreaking startups to examine and celebrate the latest advances in technology.

Paddy Cosgrave, CEO and co-founder of Web Summit, said: “Web Summit run the most prominent technology events in the world and we are committed to driving a positive change in the industry. We launched our women in tech initiative three years ago to increase the number of women participating at our events around the world. This commitment to change resulted in a female/male gender ratio at Web Summit of 42% / 58% for the last two years.

“We are pleased to partner again with Booking.com to further this important cause and provide a platform for raising awareness about gender equality in the tech industry globally. The partnership with Booking.com will help us provide further opportunities for female tech talent attending our events to network with and learn from some of the most successful tech entrepreneurs in the industry today.”

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Culture

The Divorce Divide in 2018

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Photo Credit: Jeremy Wong Weddings

For many years, there has been a misconception that half of divorces end in marriage. Luckily, this generalization is flawed. According to new research and trend analyzations by experts, the drop in overall divorce rates is caused by a decline in the rate among college students who get married which is a shift in economic status among women and a new divide between those who receive college degrees.

Women Initiate Divorce More Than Men

According to research published by Michael Rosenfeld, an associate sociology professor at Stanford University, divorce rates are initiated by women 70% of the time. The San Diego divorce lawyers at Yelman & Associates believe this is directly correlated to the fact that more married women in heterosexual relationships report lower levels of relationship quality than married men. When it comes to non-marital break-ups, the research suggests that men are equally as likely to initiate a separation in the relationship.

Social scientists have argued that women initiate more divorces due to the fact they can be more vulnerable to relationship difficulties. However, Rosenfeld argues these “conclusions” by saying his findings support the feminist assertion that women can experience marriage as oppressive or uncomfortable, “Wives still take their husbands’ surnames, and are sometimes pressured to do so.

Husbands still expect their wives to do the bulk of the housework and the bulk of the childcare. On the other hand, I think that non-marital heterosexual relationships lack the historical baggage and expectations of marriage, which makes the non-marital heterosexual relationships more flexible and therefore more adaptable to modern expectations, including women’s expectations for more gender equality.”

Education and the Divorce Divide

Dr. Steven P. Martin, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Maryland explains there’s a growing gap between those who are married. He refers to this as the “divorce divide,” this analysis explores the idea that education plays a key role in demographic research, socioeconomic evaluation and also divorce rates in the United States. In his analysis he explains,”From the 1970s to the 1990s, rates of marital dissolution fell by almost half among 4-year college graduates, but remained relatively high and steady among women with less than a 4-year college degree.”

The divorce rate for women without undergraduate degrees has remained around 35% since 1980. For women with a college degree, the divorce rate has shrunk from 27% to 16% since the 1980’s. Martin explains many factors that can contribute to this including socioeconomic status, wage patterns, equality among women and a shift in educational attainment. For example, Martin argues women who are at the low end of the educational spectrum might have a harder time finding a husband.

On the contrary, the report suggests that women who have a strong career might “have strong career attachment and economic independence that weaken their marital commitment.” Dr. Martin explains another possible link for changing divorce rates could be factors such as a shift in personal values among younger generations, changes in society unrelated to economic inequality and a change from collective to individualistic interests.

Baby Boomers and Millennial Changes

According to the National Center for Health Statistics and the U.S Census Bureau, in 2015, 10 out of 50 (up from 5) couples over 50 years old got divorced. Additionally, for those ages 65 and older the divorce rate roughly tripled since 1990 at 6 out of every 100 couples. As of 2015, Baby Boomers (those roughly between the ages of 51 to 69 make up the bulk of these ages that have a climbing divorce rate.

The numbers indicate that the shorter time a couple has been married, the higher the chance of a divorce is for adults 50 and older. By contrast, divorce rates for adults between 25 to 39 have fallen from 30 out of every 1,000 to only 24. This is because the median age at first marriage has increased by about 4 years for men and women since 1990.

According to an article in the New York Times, the divorce rate peaked in the 1970’s and has been declining for three decades. Money seems to be a big concern for millennials and tying the knot can also come along with a heavy burden of debt. According to The Knot’s 2015 wedding study, the average cost of a wedding in America is now $32,641. A new trend being explored by millennials is wedding loans.

What does this mean for you and your future spouse? If you listen to financial experts, they suggest prolonging an engagement before you say “I do.” Does this information make you feel more informed or more depressed about marriage?

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Mental Health

Senate Bill Introduce to Improve Access to the Mental Health Act

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Sen. Debbie Stabenow (second from left) meets with (from left) NASW Deputy Director of Programs Heidi McIntosh, NASW CEO Angelo McClain, and Julie Shroyer, senior policy adviser at Polsinelli PC, soon after introducing the Improving Access to Mental Health Act of 2015 in the Senate.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) applauds Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) for introducing the bipartisan Improving Access to Mental Health Act (S.2613), legislation that would increase public access to the vital mental health services that clinical social workers provide and offer clinical social workers more adequate Medicare reimbursement rates.

Their Senate bill is a companion to H.R. 1290, which was introduced in the House by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA). Stabenow and Lee are social workers and Barrasso is a physician. “Mental illness is an issue that touches so many families in some way and seniors are no exception,” said Senator Stabenow.

“Michigan seniors should be able to get quality care from the provider of their choice and this bill ensures that clinical social workers are among those essential providers.”

“Our nation’s share of people who are aging is growing rapidly and older Americans are in dire need of improved mental health services so they can enjoy a better quality of life and live as independently as possible,” said NASW CEO Angelo McClain, PhD, LICSW. “NASW congratulates Sen. Stabenow and Sen. Barrasso and Rep. Lee for using their combined expertise in social work, health care and legislative leadership to craft bipartisan legislation to address this issue.”

Clinical social workers are one of the nation’s largest groups of providers of mental health services. Currently, there are more than 300,000 social workers in the United States working in health care, mental health and substance use disorder treatment, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The House and Senate versions of the “Improving Access to Mental Health Act” would increase access to mental health services for residents of skilled nursing facilities and provide access to the complete set of clinical services that help Medicare beneficiaries cope with medical conditions.

In addition, the bill would align Medicare payment for clinical social workers with that of other non-physician providers by increasing the reimbursement rate from 75 percent to 85 percent of the physician fee schedule.

There are already 14 co-sponsors for the House bill, which was released in March 2017. Sens. Stabenow and Barrasso introduced the Senate version of the bill on March 22.

“It is fitting that this legislation was introduced in March, which is Social Work Month,” McClain said. “There is no better way to recognize the contributions of the nation’s more than 650,000 social workers than to put forward a bill that would support the clients who social workers serve, improve our nation’s mental health delivery system, and give social workers the reimbursement they need to do their critically important work.”

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