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Licensing Streamlined for Out of State Psychologists

This information is provided by the office of 28th District State Sen. Joey Hensley, MD, R-Hohenwald, who represents Giles, Lewis, Maury, Marshall and part of Williamson counties. This is a continuing summary of legislation passed in the 113th General Assembly which has adjourned for 2023.

Accelerating licensure for out-of-state Psychologists - A law passed this year to make it easier for psychologists with an out-of-state license to become licensed in Tennessee.

Under the new law, the Board of Psychology can designate a person as a health service provider if they have a valid license or certificate in another state, and they have been practicing for at least 10 years of the last 15 years preceding the application.

The applicant’s previous license or certification must have required training that is generally equivalent to Tennessee’s licensing standards, and the applicant must not have been subject to any disciplinary action.

Accelerating licensure for out-of-state medical providers - To continue efforts to accelerate licensure for qualified medical professions, the General Assembly passed a law to remove red tape that can make it harder for rural communities to recruit physicians and medical providers. This law lowers the time from 90 to 45 days that a medical board must decide on an application for licensure in Tennessee from a medical provider licensed in another state.

The decrease in wait time will encourage medical providers to practice in rural areas in Tennessee.

The law applies to the Board of Medical Examiners, Board of Osteopathic Examination, Board of Nursing and Board of Physician Assistants.

Dentist and Dental Hygienist Interstate Compact – Tennessee is on track to become one of the first states to join the Dental and Dental Hygienist Interstate Compact, which would allow dental providers licensed in a member state to practice in other member states without having to obtain a new license.

Under the law, each member state would be required to have the same licensing requirements.

This law will have a positive impact in Tennessee and help improve the shortage of dental providers by easing the barrier to cross-state practice among member states.

The new interstate compact is similar to other compacts in which Tennessee participates, in the fields of psychology, nursing and physical therapy.

Compacts like this also benefit military families when they are assigned to a new duty station to make it easier for the service member or their spouse to practice their profession in Tennessee or another member state.

Removing barriers for timely telehealth behavioral health evaluations - Lawmakers approved a law to provide exceptions for in-person requirements prior to receiving telehealth behavioral health evaluations.

Previously, a patient must have had an existing relationship with their practitioner and been seen within the last 16 months to receive a behavioral health evaluation via telehealth.

The new law provides an exception to the 16-month encounter requirement when a patient receives an initial behavioral health evaluation or assessment.

It also allows a collaborating physician in a telemedicine practice to conduct all visits remotely. This exception is similar to ones for community mental health centers and federally-qualified health centers and will allow collaborating physicians to maintain communications with the licensees with whom they practice and meet state law requirements. The change will help patients access faster needed mental health care.

Expanding Medical Assistants Responsibilities - Two years ago, the General Assembly passed legislation that allowed medical assistants working in outpatient clinics to perform more tasks.

This year, the General Assembly passed legislation to further expand responsibilities for certified medical assistants including: preparing medications to be given by a medical provider, giving rectal medications and giving vaccines from multi-dose packaging.

The law also specifies that medical assistants cannot give medication or vaccinations that require a dosage calculation.

Graduate Physician Licensure Program – In Tennessee, more students graduate from medical school than there are residency positions available, resulting in a surplus of graduate physicians.

A graduate physician is a person who has graduated from medical school but has been unable to find a residency position.

This new law creates a pathway for a graduate physician licensure program, which will allow these physicians to practice medicine in supervised conditions before completing their residency.

This change will also help improve access to healthcare in rural areas with very few practicing physicians.

Topical Medical Waste Reduction Act of 2023 – A law allows patients to take home topical medication from a hospital or surgical center that is needed for continued use.

This will save patients money and reduce waste for medication tossed out after being opened at a healthcare facility. The law applies to topical antibiotics, anti-inflammatory, dilation, glaucoma drops or ointments.

Strengthening the Board of Pharmacy - This law increases the size of the Board of Pharmacy from seven to nine members, adds a pharmacy technician position and enhances qualifications of board members to make the board more representative of those working in the pharmacy industry in Tennessee.

Furthermore, the bill allows the board to administer advisory opinions

Studying the Federal No Surprises Act on surprise medical billing - This law requires the Commissioner of the Department of Commerce to study implementation of the federal No Surprises Act and its implications for physicians and healthcare facilities in Tennessee.

The No Surprises Act went into effect last year and aims to protect people from surprise medical bills and remove them from payment disputes between providers and insurers.

The report required by the law will include recommendations for solutions to persisting challenges related to the No Surprises Act and potential legislative changes.

The study will reflect input from healthcare providers, facilities and insurance companies, and will be presented to the chair of the Commerce and Labor Committee, among others, by November.

Appropriating funds to juvenile mental health from sports wagering – Currently, 5% of taxes collected from the Sports Wagering Council are appropriated to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services for grants to programs that help with gambling addiction and gambling disorders.

This law allows funds unused by gambling addiction and disorder services to be used toward juvenile addiction and mental health disorders. Leftover funds will help increase access to services available for juveniles.

Hensley may be contacted at 425 Rep. John Lewis Way N. Suite 742, Nashville, TN., 37243, by calling 615-741-3100, or toll-free 1-800-449-8366 ext. 1310 or by faxing 615-253-0231 .

His district address is 855 Summertown Highway, Hohenwald, TN., 38462. His telephone number is 931-796-2018, his cell phone is 931-212-8823 or E-mail: sen.joey.hensley@capitol.tn.gov

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