Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Oregon Governor to Veto Psychologist Prescribing Bill

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced yesterday she will veto legislation (Oregon HB 3355) that would have authorized the Oregon State Board of Psychologist Examiners to issue prescriptive authority to licensed psychologists who meet specified requirements. 

“Access to appropriate and timely mental health services is a serious issue in Oregon,” Brown said in a statement. “I share the concerns about inadequate services that arose during the debate on this bill, particularly for children, vulnerable populations, and rural communities. Unfortunately, [HB 3355] is not a proven solution. There remains a lack of evidence that psychologist prescribing will improve access or quality of care. While prescription drugs may be appropriate mental health treatment for some patients, there are also significant health risks with some drug therapies. HB 3355 contains several flaws that prevent the policy from being implemented safely.”

Brown’s announcement is a victory for the Oregon Psychiatric Physicians Association (OPPA) and APA’s Department of Government Relations, which advocated against the bill along with state representatives from child psychiatry, academic psychiatry, and patient and community advocates. 

One of those efforts included an op-ed published in the June 24 Register Guard (in Eugene, Ore.)  by leaders of the OPPA, the Oregon Council on Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and others who called HB 3355 “a reckless experiment.” They wrote, “There is no question that Oregon needs more mental health services, both from trained physicians and other mental health providers. Letting psychologists practice medicine is not the answer. … Not only would HB 3355 fail to deliver more or better care, it would endanger patients’ lives.” 

The op-ed appeared under the byline of Jim Lace, M.D., chair of the Oregon Medical Association’s Legislative Committee, and Martin Rafferty, executive director of the nonprofit Youth M.O.V.E. Oregon. It was co-signed by Jonathan Betlinski, M.D., president of OPPA; David Jeffery, M.D., president of the Oregon Council on Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; Ajit Jetmilani, M.D., director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Oregon Health and Science University; and Sandy Bumpus, executive director of the Oregon Family Support Network.

“We applaud Gov. Brown for her decision to reject this bill as a solution to the problem of access to care, and we congratulate the leaders of the Oregon district branch for their tireless work advocating for patient safety,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “APA will continue to support members in Oregon and elsewhere in their efforts to expand access to care through appropriate means, including expansion of integrated care and telepsychiatry.”

For related information, see the Psychiatric News article “Psychologist Prescribing Bills Defeated in Many States.”

(Image: iStock/stevecoleimages)


The content of Psychiatric News does not necessarily reflect the views of APA or the editors. Unless so stated, neither Psychiatric News nor APA guarantees, warrants, or endorses information or advertising in this newspaper. Clinical opinions are not peer reviewed and thus should be independently verified.