HB 478 Outpatient Psychiatric Oversight Act Signed Into Law by Governor

HB 478 Outpatient Psychiatric Oversight Act Signed Into Law by Governor

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Today, Governor Wolf signed into law HB 478 – the Outpatient Psychiatric Oversight Act – now Act 25 of 2018. The law will become effective in 60 days.

The law will require an outpatient psychiatric clinic to have a psychiatrist on site for two (2) hours of psychiatric time per week for each full-time equivalent treatment staff member employed by the outpatient psychiatric clinic. Act 25 of 2018 permits 50 percent of the required onsite psychiatric time to be provided by an advanced practice professional specializing in behavioral health with prescriptive authority in this Commonwealth. Telepsychiatry provided by a psychiatrist that is not on site with prescriptive authority in the Commonwealth may be utilized with a service description approved by the Department of Human Services (DHS) but shall not be included in the required psychiatric time. DHS is required to promulgate regulations necessary to carry out the provisions of this act.

Act 25 of 2018 defines the following terms:

“Advanced practice professional.” A registered, licensed, or certified health care practitioner who has gained additional specialized knowledge, skills, and experience through a program of study in that specialty. A person who:

  • (I) holds a current Pennsylvania license as a certified registered nurse practitioner with a mental health certification; or

(II) obtains a mental health certification within two years of being hired by a psychiatric outpatient clinic or within two years of the effective date of this section, whichever is later; or

  • (I) holds a current Pennsylvania license as a physician assistant with a mental health certification; or

(II) obtains a mental health certification within two years of being hired by a psychiatric outpatient clinic or within two years of the effective date of this section, whichever is later.

“Full-time equivalent.” Thirty-seven and one-half hours per week.

“Interactive Audio and Video.” Real-time two-way or multiple-way communication between a psychiatrist and an individual.

“Outpatient psychiatric clinic.” A nonresidential treatment setting in which psychiatric, psychological, social, educational, and other related services are provided under medical supervision. It is designed for the evaluation and treatment of individuals of any age with mental illness or emotional distress. Outpatient services are provided on a planned and regularly scheduled basis.

“Psychiatrist.” A physician who has completed at least three years of a residency in psychiatry and is licensed to practice psychiatry in this Commonwealth.

Contact RCPA Director of Government Affairs Jack Phillips with any questions.

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