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During a news conference in the Statehouse, Senator Joseph F. Vitale, D-Middlesex, the Vice Chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee, speaks about how the Governor's cuts to FamilyCare will block thousands of New Jersey resident from accessing affordable, quality primary care.

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale that would allow ambulatory care facilities to provide integrated primary health care services, including behavioral health care, under a single license in order to increase patient access to health care cleared the Senate today.


Currently, providers of behavioral health services are licensed by the Department of Human Services (DHS), while ambulatory care facilities are licensed by the Department of Health (DOH). The bill, S-1710, would allow ambulatory care facilities, including Federally Qualified Health Centers, to provide integrated primary health care services that include behavioral health care under a single license.


“In order to broaden access to quality care for patients across New Jersey, eliminating the requirement for facilities to get multiple licenses for behavioral health services and ambulatory care is a necessary step to take,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex, Chairman of the Senate Health Committee. “We must endeavor to eliminate unnecessary barriers to improve integrated health care services and this legislation will do that.”


Under the bill, the Commissioner of Health, in consultation with the Commissioner of Human Services, would be required to adopt regulations to allow an ambulatory care facility to apply for a modifier to its license to allow it to provide, under its ambulatory care facility license, limited behavioral health care services for individuals who exhibit either mild or moderate symptoms of a behavioral health disorder.


The behavioral health treatment services authorized by the bill would include, but not be limited to: assessment and evaluation; referral; linkage and follow-up; individual, group, and family therapy; psychiatric evaluation; medication services; and medication monitoring.


The bill was approved by the Senate with a vote of 37-0 and now heads to the Assembly for further consideration.