September 2009 Policy Update

Significant Progress Made on Behalf of APA's Health Care Reform Priorities

Legislators return to Washington next week from a month-long recess marked by political and grassroots contention surrounding Health Care Reform (HCR) proposals. Despite the strong disagreements, however, four of the five congressional committees presiding over the legislation managed to complete work on their bills prior to the August recess. These products provide an important window into the ultimate shape of reform and reflect the legislative success to date of PI-GRO's efforts on behalf of APA's HCR priorities.

  • PI-GRO and the APA Practice Organization secured a provision in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee bill to promote integrated, interprofessional care in primary care settings, which includes behavioral and mental health providers.
  • PI-GRO secured language in the HELP bill to authorize primary care capacity building grants that prioritize integrated care models and training to work with diverse populations (e.g., children, older adults, homeless individuals with disabilities, and individuals with mental health or substance-related disorders.)
  • Legislation in the House of Representatives includes language supported by PI-GRO that establishes a training program to promote the delivery of health services through interdisciplinary and team-based models, including the integration of physical, mental, or oral health.
  • PI-GRO secured language in the Senate HELP bill that aims to increase the number of professions working the area of children's mental health, as well as expand training on cultural and linguistic competence.
  • The House bill contains specific provisions sought by PI-GRO for the development of a national prevention strategy, prevention efforts in clinical and community settings (including schools), and use of behavioral and psychological measures in assessing health outcomes.
  • PI and Education GRO secured several provisions in the Senate HELP bill to extend eligibility to psychologists and psychology programs under several existing and new geriatric education and training programs.
  • Both the Senate HELP and House bills address health disparities issues by:
    • Emphasizing workforce diversity;
    • Focusing on gender and sexual orientation in behavioral health and training, as well as data collection on the health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals;
    • Supporting efforts, including training, to increase culturally and linguistically competent care; and
    • Increasing research on effective methods to reduce disparities.
  • The Senate HELP Committee bill includes language supported by PI-GRO that creates a new national insurance program to help adults who have or develop functional impairments to remain independent, employed, and engaged as members of their communities.
  • PI-GRO successfully supported the inclusion of a provision in the Senate HELP bill that would require Geriatric Education Centers to develop and offer training courses to family caregivers.

To view information on the full range of PI-GRO's initiatives related to HCR, please visit the Policy Resources for Health Care Reform Web page and past editions of In the Public Interest.

Hate Crime

In July, the Senate passed the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act (S. 909), following-up on the House's April passage of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (H.R. 1913). As a member of the National Hate Crime Coalition, PI-GRO continues to work in support of enactment of these companion bills which would expand federal law to recognize crimes motivated by race, color, religion, national origin, actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. The bills would also provide assistance to local jurisdictions in the investigation and prosecution of such crimes. Furthermore, PI-GRO is working in support of the upcoming reintroduction of the Hate Crimes Against the Homeless Statistics Act, which would include crimes against the homeless in the crime data collected by the Attorney General.

Homelessness

PI-GRO engaged over the summer on a number of advocacy initiatives related to issues of socioeconomic status and homelessness.

  • Led by President James H. Bray, PhD, PI-GRO organized an advocacy strategy for APA's Task Force on Psychology's Contribution to End Homelessness to go to Capitol Hill in June and July to advocate for HCR priorities, and for increased funding for homelessness programs and research at the National Institutes of Health.
  • APA joined a coalition of organizations supporting the Services for Ending Long-Term Homelessness Act, which would fund services in supportive housing for the chronically homeless. In addition, PI-GRO continues to work with a variety of organizations to introduce legislation, which would provide mental health, substance use, and housing services for those exiting jails and prisons, along with supporting increased funding for homelessness programs under Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
  • In July, PI-GRO staff moderated a panel on Mental Health Treatment for Homeless Children and Adults at the National Alliance to End Homelessness Annual Conference. APA member Samuel Girguis, PsyD discussed his work with trauma focused therapy for women and families at Children's Hospital, Los Angeles.

Preventing the Sexualization of Female Children, Adolescents, and Adults

On June 23, Representative Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced the Ending Health Disparities for LGBT Americans Act (ELHDA) (H.R. 3001). This milestone legislation included PI-GRO's suggested language supporting the prevention of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections by countering the perpetuation of narrow gender roles, including the sexualization of female children, adolescents, and adults.

Get Involved in Advocacy

We invite you to take part of our Public Policy Advocacy Network (PPAN). Through PPAN, you can sign up for our timely action alerts and you stay informed about, and involved in, federal policy. In addition, if you are interested in becoming involved in PI-GRO'S legislative and regulatory initiatives, please contact our office at 202.336.6166.