The NCSL Blog


By Sydne Enlund

As health provider workforce shortages continue to affect rural and underserved areas in the wake of the opioid crisis, state policymakers will look to address access to care in their communities this legislative session.

NurseMany lawmakers are considering strategies to expand the behavioral health workforce. Behavioral health providers assist people with a variety of mental health and substance use needs, in settings from prevention programs to community-based and inpatient treatment programs.

To help inform state legislators about strategies other states are examining related to behavioral health professions, recently launched a new page with key state-specific data.

The new practitioner page features maps outlining the number of nurse practitioners and physician assistants who have received waivers from the federal government to prescribe buprenorphine-containing products, which have been used to treat opioid addiction. It also highlights information related to the ability of licensed professional counselors to diagnose patients and which states offer certification or credentialing for peer support specialists.

For specific state information related to these key professionals and other health care workers, visit your state profile page to read more and look up state statutes and regulations.

The legislative database will also track introduced and enacted state legislation related to the new behavioral health expansion—be sure to check the database for updates. More information on behavioral health professionals can be found on the resources page.

Sydne Enlund is a policy specialist in the NCSL Health Program.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.