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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

West Virginia Psychologists Ambush ABA Providers

Economist George Stigler taught that "regulation is acquired by the industry and is designed and operated primarily for its benefit." WSAZ in West Virginia reports on an example:
An important therapy treatment for kids living with autism has been cut off due to an emergency rule passed by a state board.

The West Virginia Board of Examiners of Psychologists passed a rule in May that was enacted in July, requiring all behavior analysts to be supervised by a licensed psychologist at all times.

The board’s emergency rule says the people who provide ABA therapy are an “immediate threat to public safety."

The board claims they're doing the work of a psychologist without a license.

"I've worked with people with autism for about 30 years. And to suddenly find out that I'm a threat was just incredible that it should come to this," says Delayne Plata, a national board certified applied behavior analyst.

The new rule caught many people, including Plata, off guard. She says there aren't enough doctors for constant supervision to be practical, so she's stopped providing treatment.
The case also teaches a lesson: advocates for a vulnerable population have to keep close watch on government agencies. The State Journal reports:

Autism advocates are suing the Board for violating open meetings laws.

A spokesperson for the West Virginia Secretary of State's Office said the state code requires an emergency rule be passed if an emergency exists, if the agency requesting the rule has the authority to do so and if the public interest is affected.

The spokesman said the office cannot disapprove an emergency rule just because the office doesn't like the rule, and it would have gone into effect 45 days after the agency requested it even without the office's approval.

He also pointed out the rule was on the secretary of state's website more than 30 days for public comment before it was approved July 15.