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Utah tele-mental health bill wins committee approval

Published January 29, 2013 4:23 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A bill that would allow mental health and substance abuse providers to treat patients remotely via videoconferencing, the Internet or other technologies cleared its first legislative hurdle on Tuesday.

Tele-mental health is already happening in Utah, said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Ronda Menlove, R-Garland. But it isn't expressly allowed under the law.

"This is an example of technology getting ahead of the law," said Menlove.

HB56 would give state regulators the authority to stop rogue, unlicensed behavioral health providers from remotely marketing their services to unwitting patients.

It promises to bring more behavioral health services to rural Utah where there aren't as many therapists, said Menlove. And it would also allow people moving to Utah to continue their therapy with their out-of-state therapist for 45 days, without the therapist needing to get a Utah license.

It's supported by the Utah Medical Association and Utah Psychological Association and was unanimously approved Tuesday by the House Health and Human Services Committee.

"I don't know that it will take over as the preferred way to deliver services. It's another option, another tool people can use," Menlove said.

Kirsten Stewart and Heather May