SB366 / HB617: OPA's Letter to the Editor
Thursday, December 1, 2016
Posted by: Michael Ranney, MPA
In response to Friday’s Dispatch article “GOP Wants fewer oversight panels”, I am responding on behalf of the Ohio Psychological Association with regard to the new proposed Behavioral Health Professionals Board. We support the portions of SB366/HB617 that address anti-trust issues. Consolidation of boards has nothing to do with the anti-trust problems and is bad public policy. There is no compelling rationale for undertaking this consolidation. Maintaining an independent Board of Psychology is budget neutral since license fees fully fund the Board.
Ohio is in the midst of a terrible opioid crisis. We have high numbers of veterans who need mental health services. Our mental health system faces serious workforce shortages. The demand for mental health services is increasing significantly. Tinkering with the Boards that regulate, license, provide counsel to professionals and maintain high standards of legal and ethical services makes no sense. Oversight by professionals who share similar standards, ethics, education, experience provides the best protection to the public.
An appointment to the Board of Psychology is not an honorary position. Board members work hard fulfilling their duty to test prospective licensees, scheduling exams frequently so as not to delay licensure for people who are ready to practice. Long delays in getting licensed will drive people to other states where independent psychology boards work efficiently. This is also likely to make Ohio’s psychology graduate programs less attractive.
A Psychology Board member is designated to supervise every investigation, working with staff investigators to determine what, if any, action is appropriate. Having this professional perspective makes for sound disciplinary decisions.
Consolidation is touted for eliminating a number of board members, but this ignores the fact that Board members do a significant amount of the work and fewer board members will create a need for additional staff to help protect the public, process licenses and test new professionals. This is not a cost saving move and will increase the size of government.
Ohio will become one of two states that do not have an independent Board of Psychology. In most instances where behavioral health boards have been consolidated, the experiment has failed and independent boards have ultimately been restored.
We urge legislators to reject the concept of a Behavioral Health Professionals Board, protect quality mental health care and preserve the current quality of supervision, investigation, consultation, license processing and policy development.
Michael O. Ranney, MPA