With a new legislative year stretching out before us, psychologists are back to the task of trying to expand their prescription privileges beyond the two states that already allow the practice – New Mexico and Louisiana.
Psychologists suffered the first defeat of 2011 earlier this month when the Utah Legislature’s House Committee on Business and Labor overwhelmingly (11-2) shot down a proposal that would have allowed specially trained psychologists to prescribe psychotropic medication if they were in “a cooperative care model” with a primary care supervision.
“The bill is therefore dead for 2011,” The American Psychiatric Association reported in its March 7 edition of the newsletter, Advocacy Notes.
And now physicians, who have bitterly opposed the scope of practice expansion, are turning their attention to six other states that have similar legislation on the drawing board. They include Arizona, Hawaii, Montana, New Jersey, Oregon and Tennessee.
The argument put forth by psychologists is that patients have to wait too long to see a psychiatrist, especially in rural areas.
In Hawaii, prescription privilege legislation passed both houses in 2007 but was vetoed by Gov. Linda Lingle. (A bill in Oregon last year suffered a similar fate, but the proposal has resurfaced this year.)
This year Hawaii’s SB 597 has already passed the Senate’s Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee. It would allow psychologists with a master’s degree in psychopharmacology to prescribe after a one-year practicum.
If this legislation is passed and signed by current Gov. Neil Abercrombie, it would launch a five-year pilot project to begin on July 1, 2012.