(WHTM)– Pennsylvania lawmakers are trying to create a shortcut that would allow them to expand mental health care access.
It comes amid what some representatives describe as a critical shortage in psychiatrists.
“I was licensed originally in 2018,” licensed psychologist Ingrid Krecko said.
Krecko has been a licensed psychologist for five years. She’s treated hundreds of patients.
Some, have needed medication as part of their treatment plan, but Krecko’s never been able to describe it. Soon she might be able to.
“I think this is something we need to do,” State Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny) said.
Through State House Bill 1,000. It would allow psychologists who receive an additional master’s degree in psychopharmacology to write prescriptions.
“Access is becoming increasingly difficult,” Rep. Frankle said.
It’s being proposed amid a shortage of psychiatrists. In some cases, new patients have to wait eight months to see a provider.
“The wait time can cause someone to just give up and say, ‘you know what, it’s not worth the wait. I’ll just skip the medication entirely.'” Ingrid said.
“You certainly don’t want to have someone who’s suicidal having to wait weeks of months to receive their psychotropic medications,” Rep. Frankle said.
Frankel is the prime sponsor of the bill. He says this is a step to offset the shortage and alleviate the commonwealth’s mental health crisis, but it could take a lot of time and potentially, a lot of money.
Frankel was asked if the need for psychiatrists is so bad, why does the state not pay for the current psychologist to go get that masters degree to be able to write a prescription?
“That’s something that may be beyond the scope of this bill but something that we may want to take a look at,” Frankel said.
This bill was just only introduced so it has a long way to go. But it does have bipartisan support as well as the support of a number of psychologists who spoke at a House hearing on this.