Tags Posts tagged with "Outpatient Psychiatric Oversight Act"

Outpatient Psychiatric Oversight Act

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Last week, Governor Wolf signed into law the Outpatient Psychiatric Oversight Act – now Act 25 of 2018. Below is the exact language contained in Act 25:

 

An Act

Providing for outpatient psychiatric oversight.

The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania hereby enacts as follows:

Section 1. Short title.

This act shall be known and may be cited as the Outpatient Psychiatric Oversight Act.

Section 2. Definitions.

The following words and phrases when used in this act shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

“Advanced practice professional.” A person who:

(1) (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

(2) (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.

“Department.” The Department of Human Services of the Commonwealth.

“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.

Section 3. Requirements.

The following shall apply:

(1) Except as provided for in paragraph (2), an outpatient psychiatric clinic shall have a psychiatrist on site for two hours of psychiatric time per week for each full-time equivalent treatment staff member.

(2) Fifty percent of the required on-site psychiatric time under paragraph (1) may be provided by:

  • An advanced practice professional.

(ii) A psychiatrist off-site by the use of interactive audio and video using technology that conforms to industrywide compressed audio-video communication and protects confidentiality under Federal and State law in accordance with department-issued guidelines. Interactive audio without video, electronic mail message or facsimile transmission may not be used to meet the requirement under paragraph (1).

(iii) A combination of subparagraphs (i) and (ii).

Section 4. Regulations.

The department shall promulgate regulations as necessary to carry out the provisions of this act.

Section 5. Effective date.

This act shall take effect in 60 days.

Questions, contact RCPA Director of Government Affairs Jack Phillips.

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Today, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee unanimously passed HB 478, the Outpatient Psychiatric Oversight Act. The bill now moves to the Senate floor. As background, RCPA and its members have been working on getting the Department of Health and Human Services (DHS) to move the outpatient psychiatric regulations, which have been promulgated for more than three years.

Over the past few months, DHS has taken steps to move the outpatient regulations towards completion. RCPA supports DHS’ efforts to move this package of regulations; however, because of the length of time it has taken to move the regulations, certain provisions contained within the regulation package are antiquated or need to be updated to current outpatient service delivery standards.

Specifically, the psychiatric recruitment crisis has grown exponentially, especially in rural areas. By introducing HB 478, Rep. Pickett (R–Bradford, Sullivan, and Susquehanna Counties), the prime sponsor of the bill, has taken legislative action to update sections within the outpatient psychiatric regulation package to current outpatient service delivery standards, and to start implementing these updates immediately through this legislation.

In short, HB 478 provides that:

  • An outpatient psychiatric clinic needs to have a psychiatrist on site for two hours of psychiatric time per week for each full-time equivalent treatment staff member employed by the clinic;
  • Tele-psychiatry can be utilized by a psychiatrist, who has prescriptive authority in Pennsylvania and is not on site. The Department of Human Services will have to approve a service description;
  • 50 percent of the required on-site time may be provided by other advanced practice professionals specializing in behavioral health with prescriptive authority in Pennsylvania; and
  • The Department of Human Services will promulgate regulations as necessary to carry out the provisions of the act.

RCPA believes that Rep. Pickett’s bill, HB 478, will allow psychiatrists to see more clients in a timely fashion and ultimately increase access to psychiatric services, which is vital due to the shortage of psychiatrists in the Commonwealth.

As the bill moves through the process, RCPA will keep members informed. Contact Jack Phillips, RCPA Director of Government Affairs, with any questions.