From the CEO
Even before President Barack Obama took office, APA and the APA Practice Organization (APAPO) had been actively promoting the essential contributions psychology can make in a reformed health-care system. With our field's expertise in behavioral and psychosocial treatments of chronic diseases, collaborative integrated health care, and health promotion and disease prevention, among other areas, it is crucial for psychologists to be an integral part of the nation's health-care system.
Backed by the strong advocacy by APA and APAPO members and staff, we are better positioned than ever before to shape a system that can improve health outcomes and help control costs by integrating psychological and behavioral health services into primary-care and other health-care services.
Our efforts are guided by eight priorities for health-care reform that build upon principles APA's Council of Representatives adopted in 2007. As laid out in last month's Monitor ("A new vision for American health care"), these priorities include recommendations related to integrated care, health promotion, the development of the mental health work force, the inclusion of quality psychological services in all benefit plans, federal funding for psychological and behavioral research and the elimination of health disparities.
Now, we are in the next phase of our campaign to ensure psychology's role in health-care reform. Those steps include:
• Taking our message to Capitol Hill. APA and APAPO are enhancing our relationships with the nation's lawmakers and educating them about the unique roles psychologists play in health care. Among our most successful campaigns in recent months was the March State Leadership Conference of APAPO, during which APA participated in a total of 291 meetings with congressional representatives to discuss our health-care reform priorities. Our ongoing work on Capitol Hill also includes testifying at congressional briefings and hearings, such as the recent health-care reform briefing that APA and APAPO cosponsored with the National Academies of Practice. Through APA President James Bray, we also provided testimony to the Institute of Medicine on the need for national funding priorities for comparative effectiveness research that include behavioral, psychosocial and medical interventions for the prevention and treatment of both mental and physical disorders (see "On Your Behalf").
• Working with the White House and Executive Branch. We are also sharing our priorities with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and with other key Obama administration officials. In addition to outlining the ways psychologists contribute to improved health care, we have requested that the White House appoint APA members to panels that are working on health-care reform.
• Backing our positions with science. Research shows that when psychologists are members of interdisciplinary, integrated health-care teams, patients have improved access to care and are more likely to adhere to their treatment plans. For example, this type of integrated health care has been shown to improve outcomes in depression and diabetes. These points, among many others, will be included in briefing papers we are developing to document psychologists' distinct contributions.
• Building alliances. We are multiplying our outreach by working with a variety of coalitions pressing for health-care reform. These include the Campaign for Mental Health Reform, Divided We Fail and Health Care First, which taken together represent providers, consumers, business, and labor, among other constituencies.
• Getting our message out. We also have a working plan for publicizing why psychologists are central to a reformed health-care system that truly lives up to its name. For example, we are preparing sample columns that members can draw from and submit to their local papers. Our goal is to educate the public of the many critical roles of psychologists in mental and behavioral health care.
We are at a critical juncture in our nation's history, a time when sweeping change in health care is truly possible. Thank you for your continued work and support in this effort. For more information on APA and APAPO advocacy, go to Resources for National Health Care Reform and Legislative & Legal Advocacy at APAPO.