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Past President Moldawsky presents award to Senator Pete V. Domenici

 

On October 13, 1997, at Monroe's Restaurant in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Senator from New Mexico Pete V. Domenici was presented with Division 42's Distinguished Public Service Award for his leadership in authoring and orchestrating the passage of the Parity Bill for 1996. This bill was the first recognition by Congress that Mental Health was as high a priority as Physical Health and made it unlawful to discriminate against mental health in lifetime caps and annual limits. The law is not a full parity law, but it's a foot in the door.

The leadership of the New Mexico Psychological Association were present in force. Dan Mathews, Ph.D., President, Scott Blackweel Ph.D., Past President, Dennis Pilgrim, Ph.D., President Elect, Clarah Farah, Ph.D., Secretary, Bill Foote, Ph.D., Council Representative and member of Division 42, Mary Kaven, Ph.D., Legislative Chair, Julianne Lockwood, Ph.D., Professional Affairs, Ann Rose, Ph.D., Professional Affairs, Tim Strongin, Ph.D., Member, New Mexico Board of Examiners, Bill Fishburne, Ph.D., a Past President and member of Division 42, Pat Moldawsky, Ph.D., New Jersey psychologist, Marilyn McGirr, Ph.D. transplanted New Jerseyite to Santa Fe and our photographer (and our "official" guide to the wonders of New Mexico) and Sandra Beyer, Practice Directorate of APA. The 14 of us had breakfast with the Senator and had a wide-ranging discussion lasting an hour. We talked of the Recent Children's Health Bill for which he successfully engineered passage. We talked of the efforts switching to the states, 7 of which have already passed Parity bills. There is much work to be done on parity that psychologists need to be involved in.

We talked of our woes with managed care and the Senator understood our difficulties but was clearly committed to managed care as he compared the sky-high health care costs when MDs ran the show with the cost containment of managed care. Even with their enormous profits, he was not as distressed as we were with managed care since costs were "coming down".

The Senator was straightforward and honest about his positions. Importantly, though, he listened to us and was very aware of the New Mexico Psychological Association, the APA, and now division 42.

We honored the Senator for his hard work, especially battling a Senate and House who never wanted to mandate anything on insurance companies. But the mental health lobby was strong and effective (very much including APA) and congress enacted the law. We'll all be watching how it works out, including the Senator, although he has no plans to come to Congress soon with any changes. Everyone felt it was a good meeting.


Jeff McKee
Saturday, April 25, 1998