HARRISBURG — Mental health services are now more easily accessible for Pennsylvania residents under a bill sponsored by Rep. Tina Pickett (R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna) that has been signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf, according to a press release from Pickett’s office.
Act 76 of 2022, formerly House Bill 2419, allows for the expanded use of tele-health technology in the treatment of mental health patients.
The new law removes the statutory requirement of 50% of on-site psychiatric time, giving the Department of Human Services more flexibility in issuing waivers to accommodate individual clinics in providing mental health services virtually.
“We learned during the pandemic that mental health patients can be treated just as effectively through telemedicine, and this new law now makes that option more available to clinics and doctors,” said Pickett. “This legislation grew out of a concern expressed by a rural constituent of mine seeking mental health services. It is another example of how a local issue can result in positive change across the Commonwealth.”
The new law will also help outpatient psychiatric clinics meet the growing demand for services and address the current shortage of in-person psychiatric time in Pennsylvania. Telemedicine provides an essential link for patients with special requirements, including young people, minority populations, and the elderly, along with those living in rural areas or with limited transportation options, according to Pickett.
Act 76 takes effect immediately.