Health care reform: Education advocacy at work

APA has advanced initiatives such as mental and behavioral health promotion, wellness and prevention, integrated care, plus psychology-specific programs in workforce development and training

APA has made a significant contribution to the health care reform debate, advancing initiatives such as mental and behavioral health promotion, wellness and prevention, integrated care, as well as psychology-specific programs in workforce development and training. APA developed a coordinated, comprehensive strategy that leaned heavily on its membership — its grassroots — and has made a substantial impact in shaping the legislation that is on a path to being enacted into law.

APA Government Relations Office (GRO) staff adopted a team-approach to promote health care reform initiatives that benefit the nation and highlight the important place of psychology in improving health care for all Americans. APA GRO relied on its many important constituencies — Education, Public Interest, Practice and Science — to develop and promote policies that seek to provide better health care options for individuals, as well as greater opportunities for psychologists in training and in practice.

APA GRO staff worked collaboratively to identify eight key priorities to be included in any health care reform package and set out to work on developing language and proposals and lending support to legislative initiatives that included APA priorities. APA staff also worked collaboratively with other key allies and constituencies to educate staff and members of the House and Senate about the importance of psychology as well as mental and behavioral health.

Although the process is still under way, APA has already achieved some success. In the areas of workforce/training, for example, APA was able to secure a place for a psychology-specific program in both chambers. More specifically, under the guidance and leadership of the Education and the Public Interest GRO teams, APA has succeeded in securing language in both the House and Senate bills that provides new workforce education and training opportunities for doctoral-level psychologists and psychology trainees.

APA also achieved success in promoting integrated interdisciplinary health care, one of APA’s key priorities. Increasingly, other health providers rely on the unique mental and behavioral health services that psychologists provide to patients across the life span in a variety of primary care settings. Integrated health care language will ensure that psychologists are recognized as vital members of interdisciplinary integrated health care teams.

On Saturday, November 7, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, by a vote of 220 to 215. The timetable in the U.S. Senate is less certain, and it may be next year before action on the legislation is completed by that body. APA GRO will continue its advocacy efforts to maintain these gains in the months ahead. For the most up-to-date information, visit our Health Care Reform site.