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.

We are processing applications for the fall 2020 cycle and are planning for the examinations to be available from Oct. 16, 2020 – Nov. 21, 2020, with extensions possible as warranted by the COVID-19 situation.

SCORES

Applicants will receive an email from NBCC letting them know when the scores have been imported.

Scores will be available according to the following schedule:

March 2020 thru May 2020 examinations: Week of June 8
June examinations: Week of July 6
July examinations: Week of Aug. 10
August examinations: Week of Sept. 7

For Certification applicants: To have a copy of your examination scores sent to a third party, such as a licensure board, visit the Online Store in your ProCounselor account to submit an Examination Score Verification Request.

SCHEDULING AND TESTING WITH PEARSON VUE

Pearson VUE continues to increase the availability of examination appointments as appropriate by state. Additionally, Pearson VUE has opened a number of testing supercenters in states with high examination volume. Examination centers continue to follow careful safety procedures to ensure the safety of staff and examinees. As you prepare to test with Pearson VUE, please ensure that your first and last name in our database match what is on the ID you will use to enter the test center. If they do not match, Pearson VUE will not allow you to test and you will be required to reregister for the next examination cycle.

If you log on to the Pearson VUE scheduling page and all dates and times are grayed out, this means there are currently no testing appointments available. Appointment availability may be limited because of social distancing precautions and varies by location.

If you have been unable to schedule an exam thus far, continue to check with Pearson VUE, as additional appointment times regularly open due to cancellations or increased seating. NBCC and CCE continue to evaluate the situation and have determined that an additional extension of the test window is necessary. As such, we have extended the current testing window through Aug. 31. If you would like to have your window extended, please email campusinquiry@nbcc.org. You may also choose to postpone the examination to the fall 2020 session. If you would like to postpone, please email campusinquiry@nbcc.org no later than Aug. 31.

Pearson VUE may periodically cancel scheduled examinations to remain in compliance with current social distancing requirements. When this happens, they create a placeholder examination (with no testing center assigned) and send you an email letting you know. To request an extension, the placeholder examination needs to be canceled first.

If you need to cancel a scheduled appointment with Pearson VUE, you must do so more than 24 hours in advance of the appointment.

SAFETY PROTOCOLS: FACE MASKS

Face masks are required while testing at Pearson VUE test centers and, examinees may also choose to wear disposable gloves during testing, though gloves are not required. Some regional test centers may require candidates to provide a temperature check upon arrival. It is important to note you will be required to briefly remove your mask during the check-in process to take the required candidate photo. However, the mask is required at all other times while inside the testing center. Pearson VUE will not provide a mask for examinees.

  • You are encouraged to “test” your mask before the examination date. Find a mask that is comfortable, allows you to breathe easily, does not cause your glasses to fog up, and fully covers your nose and mouth.
    • One suggestion for preventing your glasses from fogging while wearing a mask is to ensure the top of the mask is tight on your face. You may also be able to find other tips online to help.
    • If you fail to achieve a passing score on an examination, complaints about Pearson VUE’s requirements related to COVID-19 will not be considered an acceptable reason for filing an appeal.

NBCC CONTACTS

We are working remotely and are doing our best to respond to your emails in a timely manner. If you email or leave a voicemail, a member of our team will contact you as soon as we are able.

For questions about: Contact:
The student application and your examination: campusinquiry@nbcc.org
National certification, scores, and transcripts: certification@nbcc.org
Recertifying or reinstating your NCC: recertification@nbcc.org
Examination accommodations: accommodations@nbcc.org

We have coordinated with universities and institutions to offer a web-based version of this examination. Students who did not choose this delivery option can schedule their examination through Pearson VUE. Please visit their website for updates regarding the impact on examination schedules and the safety measures that they are taking at their centers.

If you experienced technical problems during the web-based administration of the CPCE examination, please submit the CPCE Remote Examination Incident Report to cpce@cce-global.org.

We realize that changes in your school settings can affect classes, internships, graduation, and time frames for taking your NCE exam and applying for board certification. If you have concerns regarding completing your MFP Fellowship deliverables, please reach out to NBCC Foundation staff at foundation@nbcc.org. We will work with you on a case-by-case basis to find the most effective solution to your specific situation.

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

We have also developed a list of telehealth learning opportunities offered by our Approved Continuing Education Providers.

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.”

For ACEPs providing Live Conferences, please read our plan for Asynchronous Sessions.

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.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is making emergency funds available in accordance with the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act for certain entities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

State, local, or tribal governments can apply for this public assistance. Eligible nonprofit entities can then apply through state Departments of Health and Departments of Homeland Security. For these purposes, FEMA defines an eligible nonprofit as one that has an effective ruling letter from the IRS or evidence from their state government that the organization is a nonprofit. It also requires the nonprofit to be engaged in a “governmental type service,” which includes behavioral health care. If you work for a nonprofit behavioral health clinic, your site may be eligible for assistance.

The funds are intended for emergency protective measures for health care providers, including by not limited to:

  • Management, control and reduction of immediate threats to public health and safety:
    • Emergency Operation Center costs
    • Training specific to the declared event
    • Disinfection of eligible public facilities
    • Technical assistance to state, tribal, territorial, or local governments on emergency management and control of immediate threats to public health and safety
  • Emergency medical care:
    • Non‐deferrable medical treatment of infected persons in a shelter or temporary medical facility
    • Related medical facility services and supplies
    • Temporary medical facilities and/or enhanced medical/hospital capacity (for treatment when existing facilities are reasonably forecasted to become overloaded in the near term and cannot accommodate the patient load or to quarantine potentially infected persons)
    • Use of specialized medical equipment
    • Medical waste disposal
    • Emergency medical transport

Visit FEMA’s website for more information on the program and what types of nonprofits are eligible. If you have any questions regarding eligibility, contact govtaffairs@nbcc.org.

Person Centered Tech is a telehealth compliance firm focused on mental health providers and an NBCC Approved Continuing Education Provider. They have compiled a directory of emergency teletherapy practice rules and board statements relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. They are working to keep their list updated, so be sure to check it frequently.

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