From the CEO

As you are well aware, historic health-care reform legislation — the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — was enacted in March. For the past year and a half, APA and the APA Practice Organization (APAPO) advanced our health-care priorities through advocacy on Capitol Hill and with the Executive Branch, as well as through their leadership roles with key coalitions and working groups. Working with APA’s Executive Office, they assisted in the drafting of legislative provisions, reviewed thousands of pages of bills and prepared correspondence to congressional leaders. In addition, APA members participated in hundreds of visits with congressional offices as part of our directorates’ leadership conferences and advocacy days, along with other outreach efforts.

Due in large measure to these combined efforts, I am pleased to report that numerous legislative provisions favorable to psychology were included in the final health-care reform legislation. These benefit psychologists in our varied roles as practitioners, educators and researchers, as well as the public we serve. What follows are several highlights related to each of our priority areas. I encourage you to visit our health-care reform Web site for a detailed list of key provisions of interest to psychology organized by priority area and an APAPO article highlighting new protections and opportunities for practitioners.

Integrated health care:

  • Inclusion of psychologists on community-based interdisciplinary, interprofessional health teams to support primary-care practices as part of a new grant program.

  • Participation of psychologists as part of health teams or designated providers of health home services to provide health care to eligible individuals with chronic conditions (including mental disorders) through a new Medicaid state option.

Mental and behavioral health care:

  • Inclusion of mental health and substance use disorder services, along with behavioral health treatment, at parity with medical/surgical services in essential benefit packages.

  • Extension of the 5 percent Medicare psychotherapy payment restoration from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, which will increase access to mental health services. (APAPO will seek a further extension through 2011 later this year.)

Prevention and wellness:

  • Elimination of cost-sharing for eligible preventive health services and expansion of prevention and wellness initiatives to address depression, postpartum conditions and elder abuse.

  • Directive for the Clinical Preventive Services Task Force to consider best practices presented by scientific societies, such as APA, in developing recommendations.

Psychology work force development:

  • Designation of a separate $10 million set-aside for doctoral, postdoctoral and internship-level training through accredited programs and internships in professional psychology.

  • Establishment of a loan-repayment program for psychologists in pediatric care and expansion of eligibility to psychologists as well as psychology programs and students for geriatric education and training programs.

Elimination of health disparities:

  • Data collection and quality measure development to further the elimination of health disparities.

  • Development of a national strategy to improve the delivery of health-care services and patient health outcomes.

Support for psychological research:

  • Creation of an infrastructure to support comparative effectiveness research (which received a $1.1 billion infusion of funds through the economic stimulus package last year) to enhance treatment decisions.

Involvement with consumers, families and caregivers:

  • Promotion of long-term care services and support for adults with functional limitations and family caregivers.

I want to thank those of you who contributed to psychology’s advocacy successes through your calls, e-mails and visits to congressional offices. We now look forward to working with you to help ensure the effective implementation of health-care reform at the federal regulatory level.