Prescription authority for properly trained psychologists was approved in the last week of February by both houses of the Oregon legislature.
The Oregonian newspaper reported that the bill underwent extensive discussion by a work group made up of medical and psychological experts. The bill passed the Senate 18-11 and the House 48-9.
Psychologists would not start prescribing until at least July 1, 2011 in order to give a task force time to determine the level of training that would be required and the formulary contents.
Supporters said the bill would especially benefit Oregon’s rural communities where there are few practicing psychiatrists. As a result, diagnosis and prescribing for mental illness has been left largely to primary care providers.
Opponents questioned why Oregon should rush. Seventeen states have considered proposals authorizing specially trained psychologists to prescribe psychotropic medications. So far only two states, New Mexico and Louisiana, and the territory of Guam have enacted laws that permit psychologists to prescribe.
At press time, the bill had not reached the governor’s desk.