Illinois psychologists are unsuccessful in their legislative push to expand their scope of practice to include the right to prescribe.
The push by Illinois psychologists and their legislative allies to permit the state’s doctoral-level psychologists to prescribe medication has come to an end for now, as the lead sponsor of the bill in the Illinois House of Representatives, Rep. John Bradley (D), withdrew it from consideration in committee. A companion bill on the issue had passed the state Senate. The session ended June 1 with no further action on the scope-of-practice expansion.
The Illinois Psychiatric Society (IPS) and APA were active in leading the opposition to the bill, as was the Illinois State Medical Society. The legislation would have permitted psychologists to prescribe, with oversight of their prescribing credentials and activities coming from the state’s psychological licensing board rather than from the medical licensing board. In Louisiana and New Mexico, where laws have already been enacted to allow psychologists to prescribe psychoactive medications, regulations put them under the purview of the state medical licensing board (Psychiatric News, March 15).
The bill also said that the Illinois Psychological Association would provide 20 percent of the training psychologists would need to qualify for prescribing privileges in the state, a provision that Lisa Rone, M.D., an IPS representative to the APA Assembly and former IPS president, called “an appalling conflict of interest” because the state psychological association stood to reap financial gains if the bill had become law.
APA provided a grant to the IPS to fight the legislation. In its campaign to defeat the prescribing bill, the IPS rallied its members with a legislative alert urging them to register their opposition with their state representatives. It said, in part, “Please remind your state legislator that there can be NO shortcuts when it comes to patient safety.”
IPS President-elect Linda Gruenberg, M.D., told Psychiatric News that the district branch fought very hard to defeat this proposal out of a serious concern for its impact on patient safety and will remain vigilant should the bill reappear in the legislature. She noted that it can still be resurrected this year during a veto session scheduled for late November and early December.
In a June 2 letter to members of the IPS, APA President Jeffrey Lieberman, M.D., and President-elect Paul Summergrad, M.D., thanked Illinois psychiatrists for their “tireless and successful efforts….to defeat psychologist prescribing in the most recent session of the Illinois legislature.” They added, “While we know that this issue can still resurface later in the year, we are very grateful for your extraordinary efforts.” They also indicated that APA stands ready to assist in future efforts should this or a similar bill be introduced in the future. ■
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