Testimony on Bill 966: AAC The Prescriptive Authority of Psychologists

Public Health Committee

March 25, 2019

Submitted By: Stephen Wanczyk-Karp, LMSW

The National Association of Social Workers supports Bill 966 to allow prescriptive authority to licensed psychologists who attain the specified graduate training and supervised experience as determined necessary by the Department of Public Health.

There is a shortage of prescribers in Connecticut when it comes to behavioral health treatment. Both psychiatrists and APRNs are in high demand, especially amongst behavioral health agencies. This has led to serious access issues, particularly for children and adolescents, where the lack of qualified prescribers is most severe. Individuals who are in need of prescription drug treatment often must wait, sometimes for lengthy periods, to be evaluated for, and to receive a prescription for mental health and/or substance use treatment. Allowing certain licensed psychologists who have attained specialized training to prescribe specific drugs utilized in mental health and substance abuse treatment will ease the issues of access and lack of prescribers.

Bill 966 spells out the additional training a licensed psychologist must attain in order to be certified by the Department of Public Health for prescriptive rights. In addition, continuing education requirements will be in place in order to maintain one’s certification. Having the oversight of the Department of Public Health helps to assure that necessary qualifications have been met.

Clinical social workers see patients who are in need of both therapy and prescriptive interventions. While the clinical social worker provides the therapy, finding a prescriber to work along with the clinical social worker can be difficult to arrange. A properly controlled expansion of prescribers will improve this issue of access.

Bill 966 is one way to improve access for consumers who need mental health and substance use drug treatment. However, bill 966 will not in itself resolve the access issues facing consumers in Connecticut. We urge the CT Legislature to look at other remedies too, such as enhancements for individuals to attain medical education in behavioral health and addictions, loan forgiveness programs, and actively recruiting additional providers to practice in our state, especially in agency-based settings.

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