Iowa soon may become the fourth state to implement a law allowing appropriately trained and credentialed psychologists prescriptive authority. On April 27, 2016, the Iowa legislature passed SF 2188 granting prescriptive authority for appropriately trained psychologists. That bill is now headed to the governor's office. In Iowa, the governor has up to 30 days to veto or sign a bill passed by the state legislature.

If signed into law by Iowa Gov. Terry E. Branstad, this legislation will grant prescriptive authority to Iowa-licensed psychologists who have successfully completed a postdoctoral master of science degree in clinical psychopharmacology, a supervised practicum in clinical assessment and pathophysiology, and passed a national examination. Like New Mexico's prescriptive authority law, psychologists in Iowa would need to complete a two-year conditional prescribing period under a licensed physician's supervision to be eligible for independent prescriptive authority. For psychologists who treat special populations such as children, elderly persons or persons with comorbid psychological conditions, they would need to complete an additional year of supervised conditional prescribing. Prescribing psychologists must maintain a collaborative relationship with the patient's physician. The bill also directs the board of psychology to work with the medical board in drafting the implementing rules.

New Mexico, Louisiana and Illinois are the only states with prescriptive authority laws. Ten years passed between the passage of the Louisiana and Illinois laws. With the success of Illinois passing its prescriptive authority bill in 2014 and working to finalize and implement regulations later this year, other states are now actively pursuing prescriptive authority legislation. In addition to Iowa, Hawaii, New York and Ohio introduced prescriptive authority bills this year.

“Despite medicine's continued opposition, the proposal of granting prescriptive authority to psychologists with specialized training is clearly gaining increased support in more states in response to increased demand for patient access to mental health services,” said Deborah Baker, JD, director, legal and regulatory policy in the Practice Organization.