Attention Psychiatrists in All States

Extension of the National Public Health Emergency Until the End of 2021

The Acting Secretary for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) indicated in a recent letter to state Governors that the Department intends to extend the declaration of a Public Health Emergency (PHE) through at least the end of 2021. The Public Health Service Act grants HHS broad authority to issue a PHE declaration that remains active for a 90-day period.  In 2020, HHS took a wait-and-see approach to reauthorizing the PHE declarations it issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This meant reevaluating the PHE declaration based on the evolving situation and reauthorizing the PHE declaration near the end of each 90-day period.  In addition, the Acting Secretary indicated in the letter that the Department will provide states a 60-day notice prior to the termination of the PHE declaration.

The following actions the HHS Secretary is authorized to take when a Public Health Emergency is declared that is relevant for psychiatrists include:

  • Modify practice of telemedicine
  • Allow temporary reassignment of State and local personnel during a public health emergency
  • Adjust Medicare reimbursement for certain Part B Drugs
  • Waive certain Ryan White HIV/AIDS program requirements
  • Grant an extension or waive application deadlines or compliance with any other requirement of certain SAMHSA grants

Source: www.phe.gov/Preparedness/support/secauthority/Pages/default.aspx


Attention Texas Psychiatrists

Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances

Texas Physicians, under House Bill 2174 (86th Legislature), electronic prescribing of controlled substances (Schedules II-V) is mandatory as of January 1, 2021. The law establishes a waiver from the electronic prescribing requirements in certain situations, including economic hardship, technological limitations outside of the prescriber’s control and other exceptional circumstances. More information and FAQs are available at: http://www.tmb.state.tx.us/page/renewals-physician-electronic-prescribing-wavier


Attention Washington Psychiatrists

Changes to the Physician Assistant (PA) Laws

Effective July 1, 2021, SHB 2378 authorized the following changes to Physician Assistant (PA) Laws:

  1. The former practice agreement, aka practice plan or delegation agreement, will be set up by the Physician and PA at the place of practice then filed with the Washington Medical Commission (WMC).  Practice agreements can be modified or amended at any time with the supervising physician.  The PA is then responsible for filing these changes with the WMC.  It will become the Physician and the PA’s responsibility to determine the PA’s practice duties or scope of practice and how much supervision the PA may or may not need.
  2. PAs will be able to practice at remote site settings without requiring approval from the WMC if it is within the scope of their practice agreement.

More information is available at:  https://wmc.wa.gov/rule_making_2020/chapter-246-918-wac-physician-assistants


Attention Massachusetts Psychiatrists

Independent Practice by Nurse Practitioners

Effective January 1, 2021, nurse practitioners may practice independently. Full practice authority enables nurse practitioners to “evaluate patients, diagnose, order and interpret diagnostic tests and initiate and manage treatments, including prescribe medications,” per the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

The law makes permanent earlier executive orders that temporarily expanded the scope of practice for several types of practitioners amid the pandemic.


Attention Virginia Psychiatrists

New Way for Healthcare Providers to Report Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect

Virginia law requires that all individuals licensed to practice medicine or one of the healing arts to immediately report concerns of suspected child abuse and neglect. The Virginia Department of Social Services’ (VDSS) Division of Family Services (DFS) has developed a new Mandated Reporter Portal, which provides a streamlined and easily accessible way for Mandated Reporters in Virginia to submit reports of suspected abuse and neglect. Data from the Mandated Reporter Portal securely transmits the information to VDSS Hotline staff for review. The Portal can be accessed at https://vacps.dss.virginia.gov/. For questions or feedback, contact virginiaonlinereporting@dss.virginia.gov.

HB 386 Conversion Therapy; Prohibited by Certain Healthcare Providers

Prohibits any healthcare provider, or person who performs counseling as part of his training for any profession licensed by a regulatory board of the Department of Health Professions, from engaging in conversion therapy, as defined in the bill, with any person under 18 years of age and provides that such counseling constitutes unprofessional conduct and is grounds for disciplinary action. The bill provides that no state funds shall be expended for the purpose of conducting conversion therapy with a person under 18 years of age, referring a person under 18 years of age for conversion therapy, or extending health benefits coverage for conversion therapy with a person under 18 years of age. This bill is identical to SB 245. https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?201+ful+CHAP0041

HB 1328 Offender Medical & Mental Health Information & Records: Exchange of Information to Facility, etc. Exchange of Offender Medical and Mental Health Information and Records

Provides that a healthcare provider who has been notified that a person to whom he has provided services within the last two years is committed to a local or regional correctional facility shall, upon request by the local or regional correctional facility, disclose to the local or regional correctional facility where the person is committed any information necessary to ensure the continuity of care of the person committed. The bill also provides protection from civil liability for such healthcare provider, absent bad faith or malicious intent. This bill is identical to SB 656. https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?201+ful+HB1328ER

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