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Bill targets ‘regulatory barrier’ for social workers to provide substance use disorder treatment

November 04, 2021 12:06 PM | Anonymous

Wisconsin Health News

The Senate Committee on Insurance, Licensing and Forestry unanimously approved legislation Tuesday that lawmakers billed as a technical correction so that more social workers can provide substance use disorder treatment without needing additional credentials.

Licensed clinical social workers are able to provide substance use treatment services within their scope of practice. 

A 2018 law eliminated a requirement that other master’s level licensed mental health professionals, like marriage and family therapists and professional counselors, obtain an additional credential to provide the services. 

However, lawmakers “unintentionally omitted” certified advanced practice social workers and certified independent social workers, since their credential is titled “certified” instead of “licensed,” Sen. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield, said in testimony to the committee last week. 

“This bill corrects this error and enables these master's level social workers to provide substance use treatment within their scope of practice, thus removing an unnecessary regulatory barrier that impacts access to treatment,” he said in written testimony. 

The National Association of Social Workers Wisconsin Chapter and the Wisconsin Association of Family & Children's Agencies support the bill. 

 Two people registered against the plan. Michael Kemp, a certified substance abuse counselor, said he was “deeply disturbed by this effort to extend the scope of practice to professionals who have mostly received minimal education on the treatment of this unique brain disorder.” 

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