HB2194 Update

The text below was sent in an email to all of the members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives yesterday by the Oklahoma State Medical Association. It outlines the reasons why members should vote no on HB2194 and provides an additional letter from the American Psychiatric Association affirming that position. To read the APA's letter, please click here.

If you would like to contact your representative and encourage them to vote no on HB2194, please click here to visit our Action Center.

To: The Honorable Members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives

Date: March 12, 2019

Re: OPPOSE HB2194

The attached document from the American Psychiatric Association answers many questions surrounding HB2194. This measure modifies the definition of a “physician” in Oklahoma Statutes to allow individuals designated as psychologists, therapists and counselors, pursuant to the Psychologists Licensing Act, to be designated as “physicians”. The organizations listed above request you to VOTE NO on HB2194.

The expansion of the term “physician” has caused confusion within the law but also with the citizens of Oklahoma. To expand the use of the term “physician” to include psychologists who do not practice medicine will only worsen the present confusion. Psychiatrists, who are M.D.s and D.O.s, are physicians who attend four years of medical school and at least four years of post-graduate residency. Physicians receive significant education, training, residency and supervision before becoming eligible to practice the art of medicine. This encompasses all areas of the profession, including diagnosis and treatment, as well as prescriptive authority. There is also a perception that if a psychologist is designated as a “physician”, they would have access to hospitals and be able to follow their patient if admitted. Hospitals have their own credentialing requirements and a physician designation does not automatically allow hospital privileges.

Those licensed under the Psychologists Licensing Act do not have the training necessary to perform such duties and should not be categorized as a physician. Another issue raised by proponents of this bill indicate access to certain Medicare/Medicaid patients will be allowed if HB2194 is passed. As a point of clarification, psychologists and other mental health professionals can already provide services to Medicare/Medicaid patients and receive reimbursement; they just need a letter of “medical necessity” from a medical doctor. There does not need to be a medical doctor on site for the psychologist to be reimbursed. Any reform necessary for addressing Medicare/Medicaid issues need to occur at the federal level.

In closing, the utilization of the term “physician” should assist the consumers in identifying the education, training and qualifications of the individual providing the services they are need.

These organizations encourage you to OPPOSE this measure and VOTE NO on HB2194. Thank you for your consideration!

Matt Robison
Director of Government Affairs
Oklahoma State Medical Association