Governor Quinn Signs Law to Improve Access to Mental Health Care

Illinois Becomes Third State in the Nation Allowing Clinical Psychologists to Write Prescriptions

CHICAGO–(ENEWSPF)–June 25, 2014.  Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation to improve access to mental health care by allowing certain clinical psychologists to write prescriptions for their patients. The new law requires clinical psychologists to meet high education and training standards before applying for a license to prescribe medicine. Illinois is now the third state, along with New Mexico and Louisiana, which allow patients to get necessary medication from a psychologist. Today’s action is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to ensure all people have access to quality healthcare and improve the health and well-being of the people of Illinois.

“We have to make sure people across Illinois can be properly cared for by a medical professional they know and trust,” Governor Quinn said. “If someone needs help and lives on a budget, they shouldn’t have to make multiple appointments or travel far and wide to get a prescription. This new law will improve access to mental health care by cutting down the number of doctors that patients need to see in order to get their medicine.”

Senate Bill 2187, sponsored by State Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) and State Representative John Bradley (D-Marion), creates a Prescribing Psychologist license that may be issued by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). This license may be issued to a licensed, doctoral level psychologist who has undergone specialized training, passed an examination and has entered into a written collaborative oversight agreement with a licensed physician. The psychologist may only prescribe medications to treat the mental illnesses of his or her patients who are between the ages of 17 and 65.

Under the previous law, clinical psychologists could provide mental health services to patients but were not able to write prescriptions. Typically, an individual sees a psychologist (a Ph.D.) for therapy and a psychiatrist (an M.D.) for their medication. The training requirements for prescribing psychologists under the new law mirror those of advanced practice nurses and physician assistants. The new is effective immediately.

“Southern Illinois has a limited number of psychiatrists, and allowing psychologists to prescribe certain medications only increases access to medical care and creates more opportunities for citizens to seek necessary treatment,” Representative Bradley said.

“The unfortunate truth is that there aren’t enough psychiatrists in Illinois to meet our state’s needs,” Senator Harmon said. “Giving psychologists limited authority to prescribe medicine, in consultation with medical doctors, should help us fill our system’s current gaps.”

Governor Quinn has long supported affordable and effective healthcare for all. He signed a law in 2010 to expand needed access to dental services by allowing licensed dentists to provide volunteer care at a nonprofit health clinic, which can then receive payments from the state. The clinics can use the Medicaid funding to pay for dental care costs such as equipment and supplies. The law will help encourage more dentists to treat low-income families throughout Illinois.

Also under Governor Quinn’s leadership, Illinois proposed a five-year plan to transform the state’s healthcare system, including strengthening the state’s healthcare workforce, to meet the needs of Medicaid beneficiaries. If approved, the proposal would allow the state to obtain $5.2 billion in federal matching funds over five years to implement the plan.

Governor Quinn has signed multiple pieces of legislation to clarify and expand the scope of practice for certain healthcare professionals in order to ensure that Illinois residents have access to the healthcare they need. He also supports efforts to streamline and expedite veteran applications for professional licenses to benefit military families seeking employment and consumers seeking access to qualified healthcare professionals.