Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)
03/26/2010 08:00 AM EDUCATION
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|Confirmations for Alaska State Board of Education and Early Development|
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 110-PSYCHOLOGISTS' LICENSING & PRACTICE 8:34:33 AM CO-CHAIR THOMAS announced consideration of HB 110 [CSHB 110 (HSS) 26-LS0474\R was before the committee]. 8:34:56 AM REPRESENTATIVE HERRON, sponsor of HB 110, said HB 110 hopes to clarify the current statute regarding the licensing and regulation of psychologists in Alaska. It aligns the exams that are available and clarifies who can practice psychology and the associated practices with it. School physiologists and government employees can practice outside of the current statutes. It does not limit the work of mental health service providers in Alaska. SENATOR OLSON asked if the department supports this. REPRESENTATIVE HARRIS replied yes. CO-CHAIR THOMAS commented that there are a variety of letters of support accompanying the bill. SENATOR DAVIS said she is in support of HB 110. 8:37:26 AM DR. PHILLIP BAKER, Legislative Chair, Alaska Psychological Association, said they cosponsored this bill with the Psychology Licensing Board and the purpose was to clarify some of the wording in the original psychology license in 1963 which tried to identify who could call themselves psychologists and provide psychological services. To have a license at the time, because it was the only mental health license on the books, the definition had to be fairly broad to allow people working in government agencies and other mental health organizations to be licensed. Time has passed and four other types of licenses have been put on the books that clarify other mental health services that do not need to be provided by doctor level psychologists. It is time to clean up the legislation because as it stands, people who are not trained psychologists can legally specify themselves as such. They are trying to close this loophole. They do not intend to exclude anybody from providing mental health services, only that they could not advertise themselves as licensed psychologists. 8:40:42 AM SENATOR STEVENS said he doesn't like the idea that someone who hasn't passed the exam could call themselves a psychologist. He asked Dr. Baker to provide some statistics on who are the individuals who are failing this exam. DR. BAKER answered that the pass rate on the first try is about 65 to 70 percent, so it is fairly rigorous. He took the test twice before he passed. He does not have specifics on how many people in the state have or have not passed the exam. It is designed to ensure that people who are not qualified cannot treat or evaluate our citizens. He agreed that this is very pertinent. SENATOR HUGGINS brought the committee's attention to page 2, section 2. He asked if people who have been practicing will have to take the exam or will they receive grandfather rights. DR. BAKER said those in government service have rather strict regulations and the requirement is they have to have a psychology license. That may not always have been the case, but it certainly is now. Their main concern, he explained, is that they have had several instances in which persons applied to work as psychologists in rural settings specifically in the state and it turns out they were not licensed. SENATOR HUGGINS clarified that what he wants to know is if someone has been working for several years in the field, do they have to take this test. DR. BAKER answered that it would depend upon what type of services they are offering. If they are offering services that are restricted to psychologists, such as specific psychological tests, then they must take the exam. SENATOR STEVENS asked if this is a standardized test that is used by other states. DR. BAKER replied that it is a national standardized exam. REPRESENTATIVE HERRON returned to Senator Huggins' question and said that the answer is "yes." 8:46:53 AM SENATOR OLSON asked what the thinking is behind the six months between the retaking of the exam. REPRESENTATIVE HERRON replied that he did not know. DR. BAKER answered that this is from the original wording of the license statute from 1963 and was implemented to give people six months to study before re-taking it. Other licensing requirements do not stipulate a specific time interval. It is up to the board. SENATOR OLSON said when he was taking the medical exam, he wondered what relevance it had to do with his practice of medicine. He wondered how much relevance this exam has. SENATOR STEVENS asked if there was a limit for how many times an individual can retake the exam. REPRESENTATIVE HERRON replied that they can keep trying. DR. BAKER responded that after an individual tries to take the exam two or three times, the board will usually encourage the individual to get further training before petitioning to take it again. He pointed out that, in addition to the national exam, applicants generally have to pass a state exam on statutes and regulations that pertain to the state. SENATOR STEVENS asked for confirmation that there is a governing body overseeing these exam applicants. DR. BAKER confirmed that the national testing organization collects and scores all the examinations and then reports to the Psychological State Board. It is then the scope of work of the licensing board to discuss the matter with applicants who did not pass. The exam covers about eight different areas of human development, research, and practice and treatment of varying problems in human development. SENATOR OLSON asked how often they see malpractice cases against the licensee. DR. BAKER said that would be more appropriately directed to the Psychology Licensing Board, but he thinks they have seen two or three cases since 1963. The process is that complaints come to the licensing examiner and, if the complaint has merit, it is referred to the member of that licensing board and then to the Attorney General's office if necessary. 8:54:14 AM CO-CHAIR MEYER moved to adopt the proposed CSHB 110(HSS) Version R, as the committee's working document. There being no objection, the motion carried. 8:55:47 AM CO-CHAIR MEYER moved to report the CS for HB 110, version R, from committee with attached fiscal note(s) with individual recommendations. There being no objection, CSHB 110(HSS) moved from the Senate Health and Social Services Standing Committee.