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CMS recognizes PSYPACT licensure requirements for interstate practice

Psychologists will be able to provide services to more Medicare beneficiaries during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cite this
Clay, R. A. (2020, May 22). CMS recognizes PSYPACT licensure requirements for interstate practice.

Psychologists authorized to practice in states where PSYPACT — the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact — has been enacted will soon be eligible to bill Medicare Administrative Contractors for services provided across state lines to Medicare beneficiaries.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced May 5, 2020 (PDF, 184KB) that Medicare will approve enrollment for psychologists and other providers who meet their state’s licensure requirements and any requirements established under interstate license compacts, including PSYPACT.

Approved in 2015 by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB), PSYPACT is an interstate agreement that allows psychologists to practice telepsychology or offer temporary, in-person services across participating state boundaries without having to get licensed in other states. The compact is designed to reduce regulatory barriers and increase access to mental health care.

“By recognizing the authority of Medicare enrolled psychologists to practice under PSYPACT, CMS is expanding access to psychological care for its beneficiaries,” says Deborah Baker, director of legal and regulatory policy at APA.

PSYPACT legislation has been enacted in 14 states: Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah. Pennsylvania and Virginia have also joined the ranks, enacting PSYPACT legislation within the past two months. Bills have been considered in 14 other jurisdictions this year: Alabama, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Washington, Wyoming, and West Virginia.

Psychologists in PSYPACT states will have to apply to the PSYPACT commission to get approved for interstate practice. After obtaining authorization to practice under PSYPACT, psychologists can offer services to patients in participating states without having to get licensed in those states, says Alex M. Siegel, JD, PhD, director of professional affairs at ASPPB. That means not just increased access to care but also continuity of care, he says.

If you’re working with a teen who is headed off to college in a different state and still wants to see you, for example, under the PSYPACT agreement, you no longer have to become licensed in that state or get permission from that state’s licensing board, Siegel points out.

The same is true for patients who travel frequently for work. PSYPACT will allow psychologists in participating states to continue providing services to patients in participating states. PSYPACT will also help improve access in areas that have too few psychologists or psychologists offering specialized services.

When it's safe to resume in-person practice, PSYPACT will also allow psychologists to provide temporary face-to-face services in participating states. If you’re a psychologist in Philadelphia, for example, you can already provide services to a New Jersey child who comes to your office but you can’t go to his New Jersey school to talk with teachers or observe his class. With PSYPACT, you could.

If your state has already enacted PSYPACT and you want to be able to practice in other participating states, you can start preparing for the application process now. Since it can take time to gather transcripts and the other materials you’ll need, begin by signing up for ASPPB’s free Credentials Bank now, suggests Janet Orwig, PSYPACT’s executive director. Later this summer, you can then apply for an E.Passport for telepsychology, an Interjurisdictional Practice Certificate for temporary in-person, face-to-face practice or both.

If your state has pending PSYPACT legislation, consider becoming an advocate. PSYPACT’s advocacy page offers contact information for legislators, model legislation and more. If your state hasn’t started the process yet, you can contact your state psychological association or state psychology board to see what their plans are. Says Orwig, “We’d love for you to reach out to legislators and say why PSYPACT is important, not only to practitioners but to mental health consumers and the state as a whole.”

For more information, visit the PSYPACT website or sign up for PSYPACT’s listserv via email.