Advocacy Alert: January

State Legislature Ends Two-Year Session
By: Bobbie Celeste, PhD, Director of Professional Affairs

The 129th General Assembly ended December 31, 2012 with few bills of note for psychologists.
In total, 623 bills were introduced in the Ohio House and 393 in the Ohio Senate. Of those, 201 became law in the two year legislative session.

Demonstration Project
The bill to demonstrate that specially trained licensed psychologists*, can prescribe effectively for their patients in the Ohio Department of Rehab and Corrections, made great progress but the clock ran out before it could pass either chamber. *Requirements include a post-doctoral masters degree in psychopharmacology, passage of a national exam, and certification by the state psychology board. The bill introduced in both the House (HB 603) and the Senate (SB 329) will be re-introduced next session.

Autism Treatment
OPA worked with other stakeholders to craft an acceptable bill to require insurers to pay for treatment for autism with HB 598. Then in an unexpected move, the governor issued an order that will extend access to treatment without the legislation. OPA is studying the issue to understand what is and isn’t covered. We were unpleasantly surprised when at the last minute; HB 143, a bill to protect athletes who sustain concussion, removed all health care providers from the legislation except MD’s and OD’s.

Sentencing Reform and Bullying
Bills supported by OPA that passed included SB 8 and HB 86 which allowed for treatment in lieu of conviction for individuals with mental health and alcohol/drug problems. Several bills that tackled bullying were passed as Substitute HB 116. (A bill that enumerated which characteristics were considered protected against bullying HB 208 did not pass.)

Licensing Bill Updates
A bill to update Ohio’s Psychology law, HB 496 had hearings and will be re-introduced next session, as will a bill to update the Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage and Family Therapy law. Senate Bill 287, to update the Chemical Dependency law did pass at the last minute.

Insurance Reform
Following up on the Prompt Pay bill, SB 136 would require insurers to pay within 15 days, to eliminate “take-backs” after six months, and would outlaw unilateral contract changes by insurers that in the middle of the contract year. This bill has significant support from doctors of all kinds and is expected to come back stronger next session.

Scope of Practice
Art Therapists were hoping to be licensed in SB 205 and Alternative/Complimentary practitioners were hoping to avoid licensing altogether with HB 259. Both bills will likely be re-introduced.

Coming Next Year
Other bills of interest to psychologists that will likely re-surface next year include HB 609, a bill to require Medicaid to pay for telehealth services, along with SB 350, a bill to allow for involuntary commitment to outpatient treatment and state budget bills funding community mental health, Medicaid and alcohol and drug abuse services.

To see the main bills that OPA’s tracked during the 129th General Assembly go to the Bill Box.


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