Bill could allow Colorado psychologists prescribe medication, but not everyone thinks that's a good thing
A Colorado House bill is being considered that would make it easier for patients to get certain medications from licensed psychologists.
House Bill 23-1071 passed the House Public and Behavioral Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday, with members voting 10-1. Colorado State Rep. Judy Amabile, whose district includes Boulder, Clear Creek, Gilpin and Larimer Counties, is one of the members who sponsored the bill.
"It will mean that in a few years, we will have more providers out there who can prescribe psychiatric medications," Amabile told CBS News Colorado. "We are very hopeful that this will open up some avenues for care for people here in Colorado."
Currently, if a psychologist thinks a patient needs medications such as anti-depressants, that patient must see a psychiatrist or a medical doctor to get a prescription. It's a process that can take several weeks.
"It's very difficult to get in to see a psychiatrist. The wait times are really long, and oftentimes you have to just pay for that out of pocket because a lot of the psychiatrists are not taking insurance and they're not taking Medicaid," said Amabile. "It would be a lot easier for patients if they only had to see one provider."
But not everyone agrees with the bill, like Dr. Patricia Westmoreland, a psychiatrist with the Colorado Psychiatric Society.
"We have enough prescribers already. We have psychiatrists who are MDs with specialist training. We have primary doctors, we have nurse practitioners, and there is concern in the psychiatric community, that allowing individuals who have very few hours of additional training to be able to prescribe medications that could be very dangerous physically would lead to problems with the safety of our patients," said Westmoreland.
Westmoreland said this could also lead to patients being misdiagnosed or the administering of unneeded medications.
"We in the psychiatric community that there are other ways to improve access to care," she said.
With the bill passing through the committee, it will now advance to the full house for next steps, but its future is still unknown.
"If we can help more patients get good care, we should do everything in our power to do that," Amabile said.
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