H. B. 4318
(By Delegates Fleischauer, Longstreth, Campbell,
Pethtel, Barrett, Barill, Jones, Stephens,
Iaquinta, Rowan and Ireland)
[Introduced January 24, 2014; referred to the
Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and Homeland Security then Government Organization.]
A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated §30-1B-1, §30-1B-2, §30-1B-3, §30-1B-4 and §30-1B-5, all relating to continuing education of veterans mental health; establishing continuing education requirements for medical and mental health professionals to increase knowledge and recognition of mental health issues faced by veterans; providing legislative findings; defining terms; listing the professions addressed in this article; requiring legislative rules; and implementing processes for administering continuing education.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new article, designated §30-1B-1, §30-1B-2, §30-1B-3, §30-1B-4 and §30-1B-5, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 1B. REQUIRING CONTINUING EDUCATION WORK IN VETERANS MENTAL HEALTH.
§30-1B-1. Legislative Findings.
The 2012 West Virginia Veterans Survey authorized by the Legislature found that between forty and fifty percent of the state’s veterans report suffering from symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, and twenty percent reported giving serious thought to suicide. Only fifteen to twenty percent of these affected veterans reported seeking mental health treatment.
West Virginia’s veterans and their families have risked and sacrificed their health and comfort to protect all Americans. Many veterans have witnessed or were friends with fellow service members who have died, and have difficulty managing their grief and readjusting to civilian society. In order to promote their health, the Legislature finds it is necessary to ensure medical professionals, social workers and counselors are able to identify signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, risk of suicide, depression, grief and other mental health issues that commonly affect returning veterans and their families.
(a) “Boards” means the boards administering the professions set forth in section three of this article.
(b) “Cabinet Secretary” means the Cabinet Secretary of the Department of Veterans Assistance.
§30-1B-3. Professions to which this article applies.
The continuing education requirements for renewal of license set forth in this article shall apply to the following:
(1) Physicians, podiatrists and physician assistants, pursuant to article three, chapter thirty of this code;
(2) Registered nurses, pursuant to article seven, chapter thirty of this code;
(3) Osteopathic physicians and surgeons, pursuant to article fourteen, chapter thirty of this code;
(4) Nurse-midwives, pursuant to article fifteen, chapter thirty of this code;
(5) Chiropractors, pursuant to article sixteen, chapter thirty of this code;
(6) Psychologists, pursuant to article twenty-one, chapter thirty of this code;
(7) Social workers, pursuant to article thirty, chapter thirty of this code;
(8) Licensed professional counselors, pursuant to article thirty-one, chapter thirty of this code;
§30-1B-4. Proposing legislative rules.
(a) The boards administering the professions set forth in section two of this article shall work with the Cabinet Secretary to propose legislative rules that establish biennial continuing education requirements that will increase professionals’ knowledge and recognition of mental health conditions common to veterans and family members of veterans.
In proposing legislative rules for establishing continuing education requirements, the boards shall work toward the goals of:
(1) Increasing knowledge and recognition of mental health conditions common to veterans and family members of veterans; and
(2) Improving outreach to veterans and family members of veterans.
(b) The continuing education requirements shall include education on the following:
(1) Inquiring about whether patients are veterans or family members of veterans;
(2) Screening for common mental conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, risk of suicide, depression and grief;
(3) Making appropriate referrals;
(4) Awareness of programs and benefits available to veterans and family members of veterans through federal, state and local government organizations and through nonprofit organizations; and
(4) Other matters the Cabinet Secretary considers appropriate.
§30-1B-5. Administering continuing education.
(a) Information about continuing education requirements and any other pertinent information shall be available on the website of the Department of Veterans Assistance and on the websites of the boards.
(b) The Cabinet Secretary shall work with the boards to determine the curriculum of the requirements and the number of hours of credit to provide to each of the professions set forth in section two of this article. The Cabinet Secretary may make recommendations to the Legislature for additional professions whose patients or clients could benefit from the continuing education required by this article.
(c) Requirements shall be consistent with the boards’ rules and regulations.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to require the Cabinet Secretary of the Department of Veterans Assistance to work with the various medical, social work, and counseling boards to propose continuing education requirements focused on mental health issues faced by veterans and their families.
The article is new; therefore, it has been completely underscored.