Psychologists to Pursue Prescribing Authority in New York


We are taking this opportunity to communicate directly to our members about an issue of critical importance. Organized psychology has indicated its intent to pursue prescribing authority for psychologists in New York State in the coming legislative session by introducing a bill that would permit psychologists, by securing a master’s degree in psychopharmacology, to prescribe a limited formulary of medications. Needless to say, NYSPA will marshal all its resources to defeat any attempt to permit psychologists to prescribe medication.

As a result of NYSPA and MSSNY efforts in the past, New York is currently the only state in the nation with a law specifically prohibiting psychologists from prescribing medication. In 2002, psychology sought passage of legislation that would establish its scope of practice under relevant sections of the Education Law. At that time, NYSPA and MSSNY both agreed not to oppose such legislation if, and only if, it included a specific statutory prohibition on psychology prescribing. Therefore, as agreed to by all interested parties, the psychology scope of practice statute stated that psychologists ” . . . shall be prohibited from . . . prescribing or administering drugs as defined in this chapter as a treatment, therapy or professional service in the practice of his or her profession . . .”

Now, psychology apparently intends to renege on its 2002 agreement by seeking to remove the statutory prohibition on prescribing and create a new pathway for psychology prescribing. If a psychology prescribing bill is introduced in the upcoming legislative session, we will need all members to take action – writing to their state legislators, contacting media, educating the public, working with our physician colleagues and supporting our PAC to beat back this assault on the scope of practice of medicine.

We will keep you advised of developments as they occur and look for your support and assistance.

Glenn Martin, M.D., President NYSPA
Seeth Vivek, M.D., Vice President NYSPA
Richard Altesman, M.D., Secretary NYSPA
Jeffrey Borenstein, M.D., Treasurer NYSPA
James Nininger, M.D., Area II Trustee
Deborah Cross, M.D., Past President NYSPA
Barry B. Perlman, M.D., Chair, NYSPA Legislative Committee

SGR Fix for 2014 Medicare Part B Fees

From NYSPA’s Website:

On December 26, 2013, President Obama signed into law the Pathway for SGR Reform Act of 2013. This new law prevents a scheduled payment reduction for physician services covered under Medicare Part B. The new law also provides a 0.5 percent update for all Medicare Part B fees through March 31, 2014. It is anticipated that a permanent “fix” for the SGR problem will achieved over the next several months. NYSPA will have the new 2014 Medicare Part B fees on the NYSPA website next week. An e-Bulletin will be sent out when the 2014 fees are posted. As was discussed during the recent CPT webinar, there are very substantial increases in the Medicare fees for the psychotherapy add-on codes 90833 and 90836.

Governor’s Office Announces Delayed Implementation of Regional Centers of Excellence Plan

From NYSPA’s Website:

On December 19, 2013, Governor Cuomo announced a delay in implementation of the Regional Centers of Excellence (RCE) Plan, an initiative to shrink the state inpatient mental health care system.

A press release issued by the Governor’s office states that no further implementation of the Regional Centers of Excellence Plan will take place until OMH, in consultation with community and mental health advocates, evaluates the effectiveness of the expanded community services on the need for inpatient beds.” The Governor also announced that three inpatient facilities, including the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center, Elmira Psychiatric Center and Greater Binghamton Health Center, will remain open until further notice and will maintain both adult and child inpatient beds. The state also plans to expand community-based mental health services for children and adolescents by establishing two new Children’s Behavioral Health Centers, one in Binghamton and one in St. Lawrence.

NYSPA strongly recommended that no downsizing occur until the state conducts a full assessment of inpatient beds including not just state beds, but also utilization of psychiatric beds in general hospitals and private psychiatric hospitals. In the NYSPA position statement on the RCE plan, NYSPA also called for “pre-investment” in community-based safety net services prior to any reduction in the state inpatient system as well as retention of essential inpatient services for children and adolescents. The latest version of the RCE Plan, released on December 12, 2013, at a meeting of the RCE Steering Committee, now calls for a pre-investment of at least $25 million of projected savings for development of community services. A copy of NYSPA’s position statement on the RCE plan may be viewed by clicking here.