Cutler Legislation Would Help Mental Health Patients Get Faster Access to Necessary Medications

HARRISBURG – The House today approved legislation by Rep. Bryan Cutler (R-Peach Bottom) that would exempt psychiatrists who treat patients with mental health issues under the state’s Medical Assistance program from pre-authorization for prescribed medications, allowing patients faster access to their prescription drugs.


“The societal costs of untreated or under-treated mental illnesses are undeniable, and delaying access to mood stabilizing and other mental health medications can quickly cause a patient to decompensate,” said Cutler.  “My legislation will treat drugs prescribed by psychiatrists the same as those prescribed by any other physician licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”


A study by the American Psychiatric Association showed that more than 61 percent of psychiatrists in Pennsylvania reported having patients who experienced a difficulty in accessing prescribed medications due to the prior authorization requirement.  By contrast, the study found that psychiatrists in New York state, where mental health medications are not subject to prior authorization, only reported seeing patients who had difficulty in accessing medications at a rate of 27 percent.


Cutler noted that though the current system of requiring psychiatrists to receive prior approval for behavior health prescriptions was meant to control inappropriate prescribing, very few instances of improper prescribing have taken place. 


“Psychiatrists generally treat individuals who have more severe mental illnesses, and prior authorization can act as a barrier to care for these vulnerable patients,” said Cutler.


Cutler thanked Rep. Jake Wheatley (D-Allegheny) for his leadership and assistance in getting the legislation through the House.


“Representative Wheatley was instrumental in the passage of this legislation, and I thank him for his advocacy on this issue and his bipartisan support of this commonsense measure,” said Cutler.


House Bill 1317 will now go to the Senate for consideration.


More information about Cutler and his legislative priorities is available at or


State Representative Bryan Cutler
100th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Contact: Nicole Wamsley


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