Dear SFPA members,
Thank you for members contributing to our forum. The situation of COVID-19 is new and fluid, and we might not have enough time to catch up with everything we need. I am impressed that our community is such a wealth of knowledge, and we can help each other promptly.
I have created a summary sheet for people who did not have time to follow all forum threads related to COVID-19. I have added other information I obtained from the CPA and other sources. The contents of this page are not endorsed by the SFPA but just for your information. Please contact an appropriate person/agency/institute to confirm the information. Also, please consult your attorney for a legal matter. Please feel free to distribute anyone who can benefit from it.
Akiko Kaji, PhD
The President of the SFPA
Resuming in-person Services
From the APA
Including a link to FAQ, resources, conducting research, and research findings
- Practice Resources in Response to COVID-19 (This page includes but not limited to information on Medicare, testing, phone-only billing, and small business loan.)
- Science and Research
- APA COVID-19 General Information
General Resources page contains useful information with links that some of them are the same as the information SFPA members have been sharing in our forum. Practitioners and Healthcare Processionals section that includes information about telepsychological services is particularly useful.
The categories of the resource on the web page are:
- General Resources
- Practitioners and Healthcare Professionals
- Preparedness and Safety Resources
- Resources for Parents and Caregivers
- Guidelines for the Practice of Telepsychology
- Telehealth Training
From the CPA
CPA Information Alert 3-19-2020 (Telehealth & Insurance)
CPA Information Alert 3-20-2020 (What Stay at Home Order Means to Psychologists)
CPA Information Alert 3-30-2020 (New APA COVID-19 FAQ's for Practitioners)
CPA Information Alert 4-3-2020 (Medicare Now Allowing Limited Phone Services)
CPA Information Alert 4-6-2020 (Revised Medicare Telehealth Billing Guidance)
CPA Information Alert 4-9-2020 (COVID-19 Neuropsychological and Psychological Testing Resources)
CPA Information Alert 5-1-2020 (Expanded Medicare Coverage for Audio-Only Phone Services)
CPA Information Alert 5-7-2020 (California Department of Consumer Affairs Waives Face-to-Face Supervision During COVID 19)
CPA Information Alert 5-8-2020 (Sample Informed Consent and Other Resources on In-Person Services
Association of State and Provincial Psychology Board
DCA (State of CA Department of Consumer Affairs)
Santa Clara County Psychological Association
Marin County Psychological Association
Resuming in-person services
Volunteer & Paid Positions
US Small Business Assistance
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Employment Development Department
Labor & Workforce Development Agency
Resource in Non-English language
Understanding the Difference Between a Difficult Moment & a Trauma
Using Behavioral Activation to Fight the COVID-19 Blues
Chinese-American Family Alliance for Mental Health's Community Resource Guide
Questions from the SFPA members:
- Which HIPPA compliant telehealth platforms are the best for my practice?
It appeared that many of the SFPA members are using either doxy.me or Zoom. If you use practice management software, some of them seemed to offer teletherapy options. For stand-alone telehealth platforms, please see the APA page of Comparing the Latest Telehealth Solutions and the attached Quick Guide to Teletherapy Platforms. As of 3/24/2020, US Department of Health & Human Services named platform below can be HIPPA compliant:
§ Skype for Business / Microsoft Teams
§ Zoom for Healthcare
§ Google G Suite Hangouts Meet
§ Cisco Webex Meetings / Webex Teams
§ Amazon Chime
§ GoTo Meeting
- Telehealth Insurance Coverage
I received a call worrying about if insurance companies accept a telehealth option during this COVID-19 pandemic. So far, many insurances’ positions are still unclear, and phone call is often considered not payable by the insurances. (This Italicized statement appeared to be not true as of Mar 24th.) The APA and CPA are working on this issue on thenational and state level. A letter is sent on Friday to the Department of Managed Health Care and a number of other agencies/offices. The CPA joined with all other mental health associations to get this done quickly.
According to Jo from CPA, the “CPA is working with our fellow mental health providers and government regulators to allow for all services to be done via telehealth for at least 60 days (see attached letter, Telehealth 3.12.20 final.docx). We don’t have more details at the moment, but we are trying to make this happen ASAP. APA has been working on the same issue Medicare at the federal level. We will inform our members of any changes as soon as they happen”.
According to SFDPH, “if you are PPN therapist, at this time of the advisability of social distancing due to COVID, the BHS COVID Response Team has approved today that PPN therapists can see their clients over the phone for their regular counseling appointments, instead of face to face, and to be able to bill us Individual Psychotherapy/Counseling and other mental health services for these sessions rendered over the phone.” “use the correct Place of Service code the claims they submit to SFMHP,” “the CMS POS code we use is ‘98’ = Phone.”
As of March 24th, many insurance covers teletherapy during COVID-19 outbreak. Please see the Telehealth section. For the CMS 1500, many insurances asked to put 02 for Place of Service (POS). CPT is the same as the normally billed for in-person visit and add 95 for the modifier. Please check/confirm with your insurance if it is not included in the list above.
During the SCCPA Townhall Meeting on March 22nd, an attendee shared:
Cigna: Place of Service 02, Modifier 95
UBH: Place of Service 02; modifier GT (you need to go online to complete a telehealth attestation)
Anthem: Place of Service 02; modifier 95
Aetna: Place of Service 11; modifier 95
Magellan: Place of Serivce 02; modifier GT (you need to call Magellan to complete a telehealth attestation online)
MHN: you need to call them to complete a telehealth attestation, and no change in billing when i spoke with them a few days ago)
(The same is true if you have your smart phone or smart watch set to respond to voice commands - you should turn this feature off or put the device in "airplane mode" while in session, and clients should as well!)”
- Can psychologists keep seeing our clients in person?
“Yes” for at least SF and Santa Clara county according to their ordinance. We are included in the “Healthcare Operations” category (SF Ordinance; Santa Clara Ordinance). However, as it is discussed in our forum, it might not be a good idea for the psychologist, especially who is in a high-risk category or who is close to such people, to see our clients in person.
According to the SF department of public health, Essential services at this time include, but are not limited to:
• Public safety and first responders (sworn police, fire, and deputy sheriff staffs)
• Transit operations (including MTA and SFO)
• Work performed by all Department of Public Health employees
• Human Services Agency Public Benefits enrollment, continuing eligibility, emergency housing services, and distribution
• Child and Adult Protective Services Emergency Hotline and Protective Services Response
• In-Home care for vulnerable populations
• Utilities (water, power, sewer)
• 911 and 311 Operations
• Deployed Disaster Service Workers
We can compare our work with the people engaging above mentioned essential services. Each client you serve can be unique. I think the options such as teletherapy, in-person meeting and cancellation need to be decided by the clinician’s and the clients’ circumstances and our clinical judgement.
- The SFPA canceled all of our March and April events and on hold for all other events from May because we cannot foresee how the COVID-19 pandemic progresses. We hope that we can reschedule all the events we planned later this year. The board is looking forward to meeting you in-person at those events without social distancing.
I hope this information sheet is useful for you.
Thank you for all you do. Stay healthy.