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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: July 27, 2015 02:37 PM
From: Representative Marguerite Quinn and Rep. Dan L. Miller
To: All House members
Subject: Protect Access to Autism Services-Behavioral Specialist Consultant Licensure
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1 in 68 children has been identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Thankfully, many of our children are receiving the early intervention services they need to improve their language and behavioral skills. Typically, early intervention services are provided by a TSS (Therapeutic Staff Support), who, in accordance with law, are then supervised by a licensed behavior specialist which is a graduate-level clinician.

Act 62 of 2008 created the license requirement for behavior specialists as a compromise with insurance companies to ensure that TSS work was clinically developed and monitored. However, in recent years, a significant problem has arisen due to the narrow licensure requirement for behavior specialists specified in Act 62. This overly-burdensome process has jeopardized access to early intervention services for many children with autism.

Our bill would change that.

Under Act 62, a behavior specialist must meet numerous criteria for licensure. The most problematic requirement for graduate-level clinicians is obtaining 1,000 hours of direct clinical experience with individuals with behavioral challenges necessary to apply for the licensure. Degree-granting programs offered in Pennsylvania do not include anywhere near this amount of clinical experience in their coursework or internship requirements. Thus, graduates must either plan employment throughout their coursework or take lower paying jobs post-graduation to obtain the 1,000 hours. As a result, many graduates are not going into employment as Behavior Specialist Consultants (BSCs). Service agencies and providers are becoming incapable of replacing BSCs who leave or retire, and some have begun refusing to take on new clients. This shortfall of BSCs will impact our number of TSSs, and clearly will not meet the needs of our growing population of children with autism in our Commonwealth.

In the near future, we will be introducing legislation amending the Insurance Company Law of 1921 (P.L. 682, No. 284) to allow licensed behavior specialists, licensed physicians and licensed psychologists to supervise non-licensed, graduate-level clinicians providing autism services while they obtain the 1,000 required hours of clinical experience to apply for licensure. A temporary practice license will be granted to the graduate-level clinician as they obtain their hours. These temporary licenses will allow providers to adequately staff and provide services to children and families in need. Additionally, this legislation would amend the educational requirements of a behavior specialist to recognize those individuals who are Board Certified Behavioral Analysts (BCBAs).

We would appreciate your cosponsorship of this important legislation.

Introduced as HB2010