APA Statement at the National Academies of Practice Briefing and Press Conference

Presented by Dr. Katherine Nordal, Executive Director of Professional Practice

March 27, 2009

It is my pleasure to lend the support of both the American Psychological Association and the APA Practice Organization to today’s briefing. 

We stand together with our professional colleagues in designating health care reform as one of our nation’s top priorities. We also endorse the principles of the National Academies of Practice that everyone needs access to health care which is integrated and accountable.

Let me express the thanks on behalf of psychologists and their patients for the wisdom Congress showed in finally passing the Wellstone-Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act last year. This law bans insurance discrimination and provides a baseline from which the health reform debate will address behavioral health care services. We want to make sure that psychological services are included in every facet of health reform – in primary care, prevention and benefit packages.

Health care reform should recognize that the mind and the body are inextricably linked. Too often when a patient seeks treatment for a chronic disease such as diabetes, obesity, cancer or a heart condition, that treatment fails to take into account the patient’s emotional and psychological needs.

Six of the 10 leading causes of death are related to behavioral factors. Successful health care models integrate behavioral, psychosocial, and medical assessments and interventions in primary care and other health care services. Psychologists provide vital mental and behavioral health services as part of primary and chronic care management.

Psychology, as the science of behavior, has much to contribute to improving the health status of our nation. Our eight priorities for health care reform include recommendations related to integrated care, health promotion, mental health workforce development, the inclusion of quality psychological services in all benefit plans, enhanced consumer involvement, and the elimination of health disparities.

Our nation’s health is at a critical crossroads, facing significant challenges and opportunities. Psychology is ready to work with Congress and the Obama Administration to reform our health care system for the 21st century and provide access to health care for all Americans. Thank you.

Dr. Katherine Nordal, a licensed psychologist, is the executive director of professional practice for the American Psychological Association and the American Psychological Association Practice Organization. As executive director for the APA’s Practice Directorate, Dr. Nordal manages a variety of activities involving legislative advocacy, legal initiatives, efforts to shape the evolving health care market, and a nationwide public education campaign to enhance the value of psychology. Dr. Nordal is a recipient of the APA’s Karl F. Heiser Presidential Award for advocacy on behalf of Psychology. She was an APA/AAAS Congressional Science Fellow (1990-91) and served as a legislative assistant in the U.S. House of Representatives and with the House Select Committee on Hunger.