NCSCSW Advocacy Committee Update

by: Michelle Topal, LCSW

As the new chair of the Advocacy Committee of the Society, I thought I would introduce myself and let you know what the Advocacy Committee does for it’s members. The role of the Advocacy Committee includes advocacy, education and networking with insurance companies, LCSWs, the public, the social work licensing board and the NASW-NC.

In this capacity, I attend Joint Insurance Commission meetings and Professional Association Counsel meetings, as well as other meetings that might impact clinical social workers, representing the Society and clinical social workers. These committees make recommendations to the legislature, Department of Insurance, MCO’s, Medicaid, etc. to impact access and quality of care, policy, service delivery, legislation, mental health needs of our community and the role and needs of clinical social workers.

Some of the areas that have been discussed at meetings over the past few months and are also being monitored for ongoing action are:

  • The RFPs submitted to the State Health Plan and the state decision to continue to have BCBSNC as the contracted MCO. As well as annual budget cuts as part of this contract and their impact on providers and access and quality of care for members.
  • Discussions with Medicaid re: needs of mental health providers to ensure adequacy of their network, including audits, documentation requirements, reimbursement rates, and other barriers to care. How to increase access to care and recruit qualified providers is an ongoing part of these discussions.
  • The upcoming Health Information Exchange (HIE) implementation, concerns about this, recommendations and effective implementation. Since this is looming, this has been a significant focus of our meetings to address the many questions with upcoming implementation of this legislation.
  • Discussions with BCBSNC re: network adequacy, community needs of concern, access to care and barriers to care, including the panel being closed, reimbursement rates, and unreimbursed services

As a “newbie” to this role, I will keep you informed as I learn more and to keep members apprised of developments that are relevant to our profession and practices. This will include an upcoming article on what information is currently known about the HIE and additional information about what you will need to know as we move closer to implementation. However, please do not hesitate to reach out to me with questions, concerns or information, as I am your voice to these committees.


Michelle Topal, MSW, LCSW, has been in the field of social work for over 30 years; providing services in many different community based organizations. For the past ten years, Michelle has had group psychotherapy practices where she focuses on serving the LGBT+ community, children, families and couples, as well as helping therapists build their private practices.