Legislation allowing Florida to join an interstate compact for psychologists gets bipartisan support

'This bill will provide more opportunity for access to quality mental health care for Floridians.'

There is a bipartisan effort in the Legislature to increase access to mental health services by expanding the use of telepsychology and allowing psychologists to cross state lines to, for a limited time, provide in-person care to patients in other states.

Sen. Gayle Harrell, a Republican from Stuart, and Rep. Christine Hunschofsky, a Democrat from Parkland, have filed bills that authorize the state to join what is known as the  Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact, or PSYPACT.

An interstate compact, PSYPACT allows psychologists in compact-participating states to provide telepsychology or offer face-to-face counseling for up to 30 days per calendar year.

In a prepared statement, Sen. Harrell said, “Patients will have more access to mental health services” if SB 1370 is passed and becomes law.

In her prepared remarks on HB 953, Rep. Hunschofsky noted the bill will help college students.

“Providing the ability for our college students to continue their mental health care with their trusted mental health professional once they leave home is one of the major benefits of this bill,” she said. “This bill will provide more opportunity for access to quality mental health care for Floridians.”

Currently, 27 states have passed legislation and agreed to enter the interstate compact. Another five states (Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan and Wisconsin) are considering legislation.

The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards’ board of directors created PSYPACT and the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact Commission in February 2015. The commission governs the terms of the compact.

Before the PSYPACT could take effect, nine states needed to pass legislation agreeing to participate, a milestone that was reached on April 9, 2019.

Meanwhile, all compact-participating states have representatives, members from the appropriate licensure boards, serving on the commission.

Psychologists can apply to practice telepsychology or they can apply to conduct temporary in-person, face-to-face practice. A psychologist who wants to offer both telepsychology and in person visits across state lines would need to submit two different applications.

The Florida Legislature in 2019 authorized the use of telehealth for a score of health care professionals, including psychologists.

State law also allows psychologists who are not state residents to provide care to patients in Florida without being licensed in Florida so long as they are licensed or certified in other states or territories or in foreign countries that have equivalent standards to Florida or higher standards.

But there are restrictions. Psychologists cannot provide care for more than five days in any month or 15 days in any calendar year.

Dr. Carolyn Stimel, executive director of the association, supports the bills.

“PSYPACT facilitates continuity of care when patients travel or relocate, offers a higher degree of consumer protection across state lines, and increases health care opportunities at a time when so many communities are facing greater mental health challenges,” Stimel said in a prepared statement.

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.


  • Patira

    January 5, 2022 at 4:56 pm

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  • Charlotte Greenbarg

    January 6, 2022 at 8:10 am

    Hope this passes!

Comments are closed.


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