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News & Press: Legislative Updates

State Legislative Trends Impacting Psychiatry

Friday, June 9, 2017  
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Amanda Chesley Blecha, Esq.,
Regional Field Director, State Government Affairs, Midwest
Department of Government Relations
American Psychiatric Association

State legislatures across the country continue to address access to mental health care and the opioid epidemic, while a growing number of states are eliminating Maintenance of Certification (MoC).

The APA and its district branches and state associations (DB/SAs) are proactively promoting evidence-based alternatives to mental health access challenges, such as expansion of collaborative care models, telepsychiatry implementation, network adequacy, and parity enforcement. 

Meanwhile, APA and its DB/SAs continue to work in tandem to defeat unsafe prescribing proposals.  Psychologists are aggressively seeking the ability to prescribe independently with minimal education and training, endangering patient safety.  Through well-executed opposition campaigns, APA and its DB/SAs have deterred the introduction of psychologist prescribing legislation this session in 10 states and defeated bills in others, including Hawaii.  Though the Governor of Idaho did sign a compromise bill into law, which incorporated stronger education and supervision requirements negotiated by the Idaho Psychiatry Society. 

Legislation eliminating MoC as a condition of employment, hospital admitting privileges, reimbursement, licensure and/ or malpractice coverage is a growing trend, particularly in the eastern and southern regions.  Several APA DB/SAs have initiated legislation or voiced support for these legislative initiatives.  This year, a handful of states enacted varying laws including Georgia, Maine, and Maryland. 

Addressing the opioid epidemic is a priority of many states throughout the country, particularly in the Midwest.  A plethora of bills have been introduced, with over 45 states considering more than 500 bills aimed at dealing with prescription drug misuse prevention.  Laws have been enacted to provide prescription guidelines, improve prescription drug monitoring programs, increase access to opioid antagonists, protect good Samaritans, or require prescription drug education.  Wisconsin has been a leader, most recently passing nine additional bills as part of the Rep. Nygren’s H.O.P.E. Agenda during its special session.