Braun bill to boost state’s mental-health system approved

Today the state Senate approved legislation introduced by Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia to expand the pool of medical professionals capable of addressing mental-health needs of Washingtonians. Senate Bill 6445, which cleared the Senate unanimously, would clarify state law to include physician assistants in the delivery of mental-health services.

“Our state needs more mental-health professionals to meet the significant demand for treatment,” said Braun. “Our state has invested significant financial resources into our mental-health system in the past three years. This legislation clarifies that physician assistants with the appropriate education, training and experience can deliver these critical services.”

Physician assistants are not listed in the state Department of Social and Human Services rules regarding the delivery of mental-health services. Braun’s bill would allow these medical professionals to be classified in the mental-health code along with psychiatrists, physicians, and psychiatric advanced registered nurse practitioners, while maintaining high standards of practice already in place.

“These medical professionals are licensed to provide many vital health services under supervision of a physician,” Braun said. “And it only makes sense that if they have the training and education they should be part of our state’s mental-health care system.”