COVID-19

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As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to impact many communities, The National Board for Certified Counselors, Inc. and Affiliates is closely monitoring the rapidly changing situation based on the guidance provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) for COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and both the D.C. Department of Health and Virginia Department of Health.

This page will serve as a resource for our constituents regarding changes to any of our services or programs and will be updated regularly as the situation changes.


In an effort to prioritize the safety of staff and testing candidates, Pearson VUE recently announced that they will be suspending test delivery at all U.S.- and Canada-based Pearson VUE testing centers effective immediately until April 16.

Though we know that this news is likely disheartening for all of you who have been diligently preparing to complete your exams, we trust that the decision Pearson VUE has made will help keep our communities safe and hopefully healthy.

During this time, please continue to study and prepare, and when the testing centers reopen, be assured that your exams will be waiting for you. We will continue to provide updates regarding available testing windows.

Please note that you will receive an authorization to test email from Pearson VUE within the time period that they will be closed. It is imperative that you read this email. It will contain the necessary information for you to schedule your exam after their facilities’ anticipated reopening on April 16.

We are making every attempt to keep everyone safe while also providing the best possible service in this tumultuous time. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

In an effort to prioritize the safety of staff and testing candidates, Pearson VUE recently announced that they will be suspending test delivery at all U.S.- and Canada-based Pearson VUE testing centers effective immediately until April 16.

Though we know that this news is likely disheartening for all of you who have been diligently preparing to complete your exams, we trust that the decision Pearson VUE has made will help keep our communities safe and hopefully healthy.

During this time, please continue to study and prepare, and when the testing centers reopen, be assured that your exams will be waiting for you. We will continue to provide updates regarding available testing windows.

Please note that you will receive an authorization to test email from Pearson VUE within the time period that they will be closed. It is imperative that you read this email. It will contain the necessary information for you to schedule your exam after their facilities’ anticipated reopening on April 16.

We are making every attempt to keep everyone safe while also providing the best possible service in this tumultuous time. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

We realize that changes in your school settings can affect classes, internships, and potentially graduation. If in the coming days and weeks you have concerns regarding completing your MFP Fellowship deliverables, please reach out to NBCC Foundation staff at foundation@nbcc.org. We will work with each of you on a case-by-case basis to find the most effective solution to your specific situation.

Our staff is also closely monitoring and evaluating all possible ramifications this outbreak may have on our 2020 MFP Orientation and Training and Symposium in May. The health and safety of our attendees, presenters, speakers, exhibitors, and staff remain our highest priority.

In addition to the monitoring of the organizations mentioned above, we have also been in contact with our Symposium hotel, DoubleTree by Hilton Washington, D.C. – Crystal City, and they have provided us with Hilton’s issued guidance on Viral Outbreak Control policies and infectious disease protocols and will continue to follow all best practices in hygiene procedures and cleaning practices.

The health and safety of our Symposium attendees, volunteers, presenters, speakers, exhibitors, and staff remain our highest priority. We are also aware that a number of institutions and organizations have instituted restrictions that may impact the ability of their faculty, students, and staff to travel.

We are currently still planning on continuing with the Symposium, however, we are carefully considering all alternatives. We will have a final decision by April 15, 2020.

In addition to the monitoring of the organizations mentioned above, we have been in contact with our Symposium hotel, DoubleTree by Hilton Washington, D.C. – Crystal City, and they have provided us with Hilton’s issued guidance on Viral Outbreak Control policies and infectious disease protocols and will continue to follow all best practices in hygiene procedures and cleaning practices.

We will continue to update all Symposium attendees with more information in the coming days and weeks.

We recognize that a lot of plans for live continuing education opportunities have been changed or canceled. If you are looking for quality online continuing education opportunities, search our Approved Continuing Education Provider directory

NBCC is concerned about the COVID-19 outbreaks and the health and welfare of continuing education providers and participants. If you have been approved to deliver a live, in-person Single Program or live, in-person Cosponsored Program, you may opt for virtual delivery without consulting NBCC. However, participants must be able to communicate and interact with the presenter during the program, consistent with NBCC Continuing Education Provider Policy Sections B.2 (a) and B.3.

If you have a Single Program or Cosponsorship application pending for a live, in-person program and you change to virtual delivery, send notification to rierson@nbcc.org.

Like many businesses, we have asked our employees to work from home to ensure the safety of our team and the organizations and individuals we are here to serve. Because we cannot ensure the timeliness of the review, NBCC will not be accepting any rush applications during this time.

Additionally, other reviews such as ACEP and Cosponsorship Applications as well as ACEP Audits may also be significantly delayed.

NBCC would like to work with you as you deal with the challenges posed by the COVID-19 outbreaks, and we sincerely appreciate your patience and understanding. If you have additional questions, email continuinged@nbcc.org using the subject line “COVID-19.”

H.R. 6074, the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020, signed into law on March 6, gives states the ability to request waivers that would allow them to use Medicare and Medicaid funds for telehealth services without the “originating site requirement.” Under normal circumstances, patients are required to have one or more face-to-face appointments at a qualifying health care site before Medicare or Medicaid will pay for telehealth services. Counselors are not covered under Medicare, but Medicaid coverage varies by state. Most states cover Medicaid services provided by counselors, but some restrict the types of providers that can furnish telehealth services. States that have waivers approved by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services may lift some restrictions temporarily and begin covering counseling services via telehealth. Several other federal government agencies have released guidance important to behavioral health providers.

The National Association of Medicaid Directors lists contact information for each state Medicaid agency. If you are unsure of the status of Medicaid coverage for counselors providing telehealth in your state, contact your state Medicaid director’s office or govtaffairs@nbcc.org.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has also released additional guidance on telehealth for state Medicaid programs and provides general information on telehealth benefits in Medicaid.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have issued guidance on the use of telemedicine for medication-assisted treatment. SAMHSA has also released guidance relating to the prohibitions on use and disclosure of patient identifying information under 442 CFR Part 2.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights has stated it will waive potential penalties for HIPAA violations against health care providers who serve patients through everyday communications technologies during the emergency.

State governments have released varying guidelines on a number of issues related to COVID-19, including telehealth. Check your state department of health’s website for that general information. You can also contact govtaffairs@nbcc.org with any questions.

The state governments regulate the insurance industry via each state insurance commissioner’s office. Each state has different requirements for counselors providing telemental health services, and each commercial insurer has different reimbursement policies.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners lists contact information for every state insurance commissioner. If you are unsure of how telemental health services are regulated by the state and private insurance, contact your state insurance commissioner’s office or govtaffairs@nbcc.org.

Some commercial insurers do not currently reimburse counselors for telehealth services. However, some states have temporarily directed insurers to reimburse counselors for the telehealth services. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an emergency rule directing insurance companies to reimburse mental health counselors in the state for telehealth services for up to 120 days (via the Texas Counseling Association). NBCC is supportive of efforts to lift telemental health restrictions during this emergency.

Many commercial insurers have announced that they intend to temporarily ease restrictions and lower costs for telemental health services. America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) maintains a list of insurers who have temporarily altered their policies.

The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) has issued a statement on the use of distance counseling. If programs are utilizing distance counseling and supervision, they need to adhere to CACREP standards and policies.

NOTE: CACREP is not waiving the minimum requirement of direct and indirect service hours for practicum and internship.


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