We are writing in response to the Saipan Tribune article of Sept. 8, 2022: “Torres vetoes Sablan, Propst’s bill for lack of info as to costs.”
This bill was intended to open greater access to much needed mental health resources for the CNMI. It was passed unanimously by the House of Representatives and Senate, and was supported by the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. and the Healthcare Professions Licensing Board, as well as the undersigned psychologists.
However, the article indicates that there is some confusion about PSYPACT (Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact) that we would like to clarify. First, this is not a program that the CNMI administers. It is a legal agreement between participating states and territories to allow already licensed psychologists to provide services into other participating states and territories. The governing body is the PSYPACT Commission, and every participating state and territory has a representative on that commission.
The costs associated with PSYPACT are truly minimal: any necessary travel by the CNMI PSYPACT representative is paid for by the PSYPACT Commission. There are no costs to the CNMI for any licensed psychologist from another state or territory who is authorized under PSYPACT to practice here. There is a state assessment fee of $10 for any licensed psychologist here who participates in the compact—if no CNMI licensed psychologists participate, there is no fee. There are currently six licensed psychologists in the CNMI. If all of us chose to become authorized under PSYPACT, the cost to the CNMI would be $60. Most states pay this fee, but it could be passed on to the authorized psychologists, resulting in no cost to the CNMI. Any PSYPACT authorized psychologist pays their own application fees. That’s it. There are no other costs to the CNMI.
We are completely in support of having more local licensed psychologists. In fact, Dr. Jennifer Maratita, Dr. Amanda Hughes, and Dr. Glenda George have returned to the CNMI to practice here. While capacity is building, though, we have an urgent unmet need for services that PSYPACT can help meet. Teletherapy has been shown to successfully address mental health needs in most cases. PSYPACT also provides for a 30-day period of in-person, face-to-face services if an authorized psychologist comes to the CNMI.
PSYPACT, as an interjurisdictional compact, cannot dictate billing and payment decisions. These will need to be addressed through separate legislation.
It is our hope that with these clarifications, the PSYPACT bill will be reconsidered soon. We are happy to answer any questions or concerns about PSYPACT. These can be addressed to Dr. Erhard at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Anne Erhard
Dr. Adrian Brenn
Dr. Amanda Hughes
Dr. Janet McCullough