Md. Bill Enhances Telecounseling

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Telemedicine has taken off during the pandemic. Why not tele-counseling?

A Maryland legislative committee heard testimony on a bill ensure that alcohol and drug trainees can continue to provide telehealth services after the COVID-19 pandemic. The sponsor is State Senator Mary Beth Carozza (R- Eastern Shore).

The Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists last year recommended that ADT’s be allowed to conduct their counseling sessions online.

“Access to alcohol and drug counseling through telehealth is increasingly important especially given the devastating data from the Maryland Health Department and Opioid Operational Command Center. There were 2,025 overdose deaths in Maryland in the first three quarters of 2020. That is a 12 percent increase from the same period in 2019. These numbers make it clear that Maryland cannot let up in our efforts to provide the needed counseling services and treatment to those with alcohol and drug addictions,” Carozza testified. “Senate Bill 646 would ensure that alcohol and drug trainees can continue to provide telehealth services after the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Many of our districts are hard hit by health care workforce shortages, especially in the rural parts of the state. Our hospitals, schools, long-term care facilities, and community providers need more flexibility to provide both in-person and telehealth services,” Carozza added. “The experience in the field these last 10 months with the use of telehealth among all providers has been overwhelmingly positive. Behavioral health programs have seen decreases in no-show rates, increases in retention rates, flexibility in conducting appointments to better meet the needs of clients, and significant client satisfaction with these services.”