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The College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists (CPNP) is a professional association representing nearly 3,000 psychiatric and neurologic pharmacists. CPNP’s membership consists of specialized pharmacists, many being Board Certified Psychiatric Pharmacists (BCPP), who treat patients living with psychiatric, substance use, and neurologic disorders.

Psychiatric pharmacists are an underutilized resource on the frontlines providing direct patient care, optimizing medication outcomes, and supporting fellow health care colleagues in primary care and mental health. Sufficient reimbursement continues to stand in the way of many practices seeking to include a psychiatric pharmacist on the care team. In order to expand the use of psychiatric pharmacists, federal payment polices must be changed to allow psychiatric pharmacists to directly bill for their services.

Patients with psychiatric and substance use disorders are currently confronted with a health care system which lacks behavioral health providers and is unable to meet their unique needs. These patients deserve the high-quality, evidence-based, measurement-driven, comprehensive care that psychiatric pharmacists can provide as an integral member of inter-professional teams.

People living with behavioral health conditions need timely and safe access to mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) services now more than ever and are likely to continue to need behavioral health care long after the official public health emergency declaration is over. Research shows that the COVID-19 pandemic is greatly exacerbating existing behavioral health issues and leading to substantial increases in anxiety, depression, and SUDs.(JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(9):e2019686).

To advance the reach and practice of psychiatric pharmacists, CPNP’s federal policy priorities for 2021 are as follows:

CPNP will play an active role in legislative and regulatory advocacy to:

  1. Increase understanding by policymakers, health care professional organizations, and patient advocacy organizations on the role of psychiatric pharmacists on the health care team and the value added to the team and patient outcomes.
  2. Increase access to medication management services for mental health and substance use disorders by:
    1. Require CMS and other payers to pay for services provided by psychiatric pharmacists.
    2. Expanding the mental health and substance use disorder treatment workforce through use of psychiatric pharmacists.
    3. Increasing adoption of innovative care and payment models that integrate behavioral health and primary care services.

CPNP will actively work with key partners to advance legislative and regulatory policies to:

  1. Increase access to psychiatric and mental health care services, including through telehealth.
  2. Increase access to medically necessary mental health and substance use treatment medications such as long-acting injectable antipsychotics, naloxone, and medication assisted treatment (MAT) for alcohol and opioid use disorders including:
    1. Removing barriers to access to MAT such as elimination of the X-waiver requirements of the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000 (DATA 2000) or at a minimum modify the X-waiver to allow psychiatric pharmacists to prescribe and manage MAT as part of an integrated care team.
  3. Increase CMS funding for psychiatric pharmacy residency training including pharmacy residency (PGY1) and psychiatric pharmacy residency (PGY2) training.
  4. Maintain the 340B Drug Pricing Program (340B) as essential in providing low-income patients access to medically necessary medications as well as psychiatric pharmacists’ services and residency training.
  5. Reduce stigma, prevent suicide, and dispel mental health myths and misperceptions for patients living with mental health disorders, including substance use disorders.