Columbus, Ohio – The RxP movement to expand the number of jurisdictions that permit properly trained psychologists to prescribe psychotropic medications appears to be gearing up for substantial activity in the coming year, including an interesting demonstration project backers hope will be approved for Ohio.
Moves for statewide authority are under way in several states, including heavily lobbied efforts in Illinois and New Jersey. A bill already has been introduced in the New Jersey House of Representatives and a similar Illinois bill is expected this spring.
In a column distributed to many state psychological associations and various professional listservs, Patrick H. DeLeon, Ph.D., J.D., who is often dubbed “the father of the RxP movement,” said that in addition to those efforts there is a plan in Hawaii to re-introduce a bill that passed both houses of the state legislature in 2007 only to be vetoed by the governor because of a divided opinion on the state’s Board of Psychology.
DeLeon said subsequent elections and a change in the makeup of the psychology board offer more favorable circumstances this year.
A legislatively approved measure in Oregon similarly succumbed to a veto in 2010. The only statewide successes for the movement have come in New Mexico in 2002 and Louisiana in 2004. DeLeon noted Canadian psychologists are seeking RxP authority in Ontario in a submission to the health minister and the Ontario Health Professions Regulatory Advisory Council.
The Ohio effort, outlined in October at the Ohio Psychological Association’s 2012 convention at the Crowne Plaza Downtown Columbus by Alice Randolph, Ed.D, MSCP, who led the Ohio RxP task force, could be seen as a foot-in-the-door strategy.
Instead of seeking statewide RxP authority, Ohio supporters are promoting a “demonstration project” to permit six properly trained psychologists to prescribe psychotropic medicines in the penal system, where the lack of available psychiatrists has created a great unmet need.
Randolph said the project will demonstrate the dual capacity of RxP psychologists to provide counseling as well as medication. “We’re not a medical model,” Randolph said. “We’re a bio-social-psychological model.”
RxP psychologists are not a separate profession, she said. Just as some psychologists pursue specialties in cognitive therapy, others in behavioral change and others use interpersonal/psychodynamic methods, RxP practitioners add psychopharmacology to their general training in psychology, she explained.
Randolph said the low number of psychiatrists nationwide has created widespread need among those with disorders that require psychotropic drugs but that void is particularly dire among the state’s convict population. “The big issue here is access (to proper care),” she said.
The demonstration project was introduced as Ohio Senate Bill 329 in April and has since gained growing bipartisan support. A companion bill, House Bill 603, was introduced in November. Committee hear- ings already have begun in the Senate.
Randolph said Ohio RxP proponents have been working since 1999 to develop a strategy for pursuing prescription authority and settled on the plan to enlist support and push for approval to work in the penal system where the need is so great rather than set out at once for statewide authority.
“We in Ohio decided to stay under the radar,” she said.