– Rep. Tom Mehaffie (R-Dauphin) introduced a new licensure bill this week to protect patient care and reduce fraud and waste in the care of vulnerable populations in need of applied behavior analysis (ABA) in their treatment.
With 104 co-sponsors, House Bill 1900
intends to expand ABA services in Pennsylvania and establish well-defined standards for those claiming to be qualified behavior analysts practicing ABA across the state. Mehaffie extended special recognition to Rep. Tom Murt (R-Montgomery/Philadelphia), chairman of the House Human Services Sub-Committee on Mental Health and chairman of the Mental Health Caucus, for his expertise and invaluable assistance with this legislation.
“Today, I am proud to introduce the Better Access to Treatment Act,” Mehaffie said, “because it is long overdue for Pennsylvania to recognize this profession and those behavior analysts who are board certified in a way that protects the public. Today in Pennsylvania, there are not enough trained and qualified providers, and too many individuals who claim to be practicing ABA when in fact they are not educated, experienced nor certified to do so. This exposes our health care system to massive waste and potential fraud.”
Mehaffie continued, “Moreover, without a clearly defined behavior analyst license in our Commonwealth, those talented, well-trained professionals are lured every day toward any one of 30 other states that recognize this distinction.”
Clinicians in the field would almost unanimously agree that when implemented correctly by qualified experienced professionals, ABA improves outcomes and reduces health care costs and expenditures to private insurance, Medicaid and Medicare. By licensing board certified behavior analysts (BCBAs), Pennsylvania would also create thousands of jobs in our Commonwealth and help retain those educated in the state’s colleges and universities who would otherwise seek employment in nearby states with ABA licensure protections.
“This act aims to recognize the specific expertise that behavior analysts utilize that is unique from other helping professionals,” said Dr. Cheryl Tierney-Aves, president of the nonprofit, grassroots ABA in PA Initiative. “We hope to hold Pennsylvania to the national BACB standards, following the successful model of other states that implemented similar laws that drew talent away from our Commonwealth. We are incredibly grateful to Rep. Mehaffie for his leadership and the amazing number of sponsors who support his effort, and urge all Pennsylvania House members to co-sponsor the BAT Act.”
Because of the absence of licensure, Pennsylvania excludes ABA-based therapies from being applied to many other serious health conditions that affect the most vulnerable: seniors, children and adults with autism, veterans battling PTSD, or those struggling with addiction to name a few.
“Pennsylvania does not realize the incredible potential that is being lost by not allowing behavior analysts access to join treatment teams for the care of patients,” Mehaffie said. “Pennsylvania can’t just be ABA for one condition, it has to be ABA for all!”
Representative Thomas Mehaffie
106th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jennifer Fitch