Michigan bill would allow out-of-state mental health care


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A new bill introduced in Michigan would allow you to keep your psychologist even if you move to another state, allowing you to continue care online. 

It’s called a Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact, and more than 25 states have already signed on. Michigan could be next, but the governor must be on board. 

The pandemic has put a big emphasis on mental health as more people are needing and seeking care. Some lawmakers believe this bill would help.

“We have people who live in boarder states and move around,” said state Rep. Mary Whiteford, R-Casco Township.

For Whiteford, this bill is a no-brainer.

“It’s really come to a pinnacle in the last year and a half, through the pandemic and the isolation and the fear, and it’s really caused a huge issue,” said Whiteford. 

The former pediatric nurse has a focus on kids’ mental health, but the bill would apply to all ages. Under this proposed change, psychologists in participating jurisdictions could practice across state lines, using an online platform or in-person, providing more psychologists to provide care in Michigan.

“If you are licensed and in good standing in Michigan you can go and practice in another state,” explained Whiteford. “That’s really important. There’s a lack of providers, people need consistent care. When you have psychiatric issues like depression and anxiety or even worse situations or conditions, it’s really important to have somebody that you trust and to keep that relationship, so I think it’s really important that we’ve got this flexibility.”

Last time it was proposed Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed the bill, citing concerns about giving up Michigan’s ability to regulate health professions and saying it’s a violation of the state constitution.

Whiteford disagrees.

“My example will be a driver’s license. I have a driver’s license in Michigan. If I go to another state, I have to follow their laws. That’s pretty common,” Whiteford said. “It’s the same thing with this compact. If you go to another state you have to follow their laws, same as another state that wants to come and practice in Michigan, they have to follow our laws.”

The bill was introduced about a week ago. It’s the same language as last time, but there is more support, which some lawmakers think will make a difference.

News 8 will follow the progress of the bill.  

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