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House Committee Passes Bills Improving Access to Care

This week, the House Professional Licensure Committee advanced two bills that will provide the steps to ease access to care concerns in Pennsylvania.

Senate Bill 67, sponsored by Senator Judy Ward (R-Blair), allows Pennsylvania to join the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact. This compact opens channels for patients seeking mental health services to widen their search for appropriate providers. HAP has repeatedly highlighted the need for more mental health treatment providers and believes Senate Bill 67 begins to address these access to care issues, particularly for patients located in rural or other isolated areas of the state. The compact would allow psychologists licensed in other “compact” states to see patients across state lines without needing to repeat the licensing process in each state, many of which require the same documentation.

The committee also passed HB 1947, sponsored by Representative Aaron Kaufer (R-Luzerne), updating international medical graduate requirements. Currently, a medical student from the United States or Canada must obtain two years of residency training, while an international student is required to have three years. While this requirement may have been appropriate when the law was established, international students must now go through similar rigorous medical training. This change will allow qualified physicians to see patients sooner, preventing unnecessary delays.

These two proposals fit within HAP’s yearlong study of workforce needs of Pennsylvania’s health care industry. HAP released Addressing Pennsylvania’s Health Care Workforce Challenges earlier this year with recommendations to:

  • Build the infrastructure to ensure collection of and access to health care workforce data
  • Develop programs and activities to encourage individuals to enter and remain in health care fields
  • Expand the commonwealth's education and workforce development capacity to provide training and remove barriers to help transition qualified professionals into health careers and foster diversity in the workplace
  • Incorporate changes in the structure and delivery of health care to promote improvements in quality and efficiency

For more information on the legislative proposals, please contact Stephanie Watkins, HAP’s vice president, state legislative advocacy, or Mary Marshall, HAP’s director of workforce and professional development, for questions regarding the workforce report.

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