From the CEO
One of the most important ways APA serves the interest of psychologists is through our public policy advocacy efforts. The APA advocacy program is the largest and most visible national presence furthering the interests of psychology and the application of psychological knowledge to the formulation of sound public policy.
The APA Public Policy Office performs our advocacy efforts on behalf of the Education, Public Interest, and Science Directorates (part of the 501 c-3 component of APA). The Government Relations Office (GRO) provides advocacy for the APA Practice Organization (part of the 501 c-6 component of APA).
APA has successfully advanced key psychology issues and has gained strong supporters for psychology in Congress and in federal agencies. Highlighted below are just a few of the public policy accomplishments for 2004 in each of our directorates.
Education advocacy accomplishments
Led by education advocacy staff, the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act was introduced and sailed through Congress with bipartisan support and was signed by President Bush on Oct. 21, 2004. The Smith Act, named after Sen. Gordon Smith's son, who committed suicide while in college, is primarily targeted at youth suicide prevention. It is the first bipartisan, bicameral bill APA has introduced that was signed into law. It includes the APA proposed Campus Care and Counseling Act that addresses the mental and behavioral health needs of college students.
Congress continues to support the Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) Program within the Department of Health and Human Services Bureau of Health Professions. Both the House and Senate recommended the continuation of the GPE Program at its current level of $4.5 million. The GPE Program is the only federally supported program focusing solely on psychology education and training.
Practice advocacy accomplishments
The GRO lobbying efforts greatly advanced the issue of mental health parity in private insurance coverage. Working with advocacy partners, GRO convinced 70 senators and 249 representatives to co-sponsor parity legislation. GRO also successfully lobbied for inclusion of parity in both the 2004 Republican and Democratic Party platforms. Parity appears poised for passage by the incoming Congress.
Congress had planned to cut Medicare provider payment rates by 4 to 5 percent each year from 2003 to 2005. In coalition with other health-care organizations, GRO won a coup by convincing Congress to pass legislation replacing the cutbacks with a 1.5 percent annual increase in reimbursement rates for the three-year period.
Public interest advocacy accomplishments
Through a new Coordinated Advocacy Campaign Initiative, public interest policy staff engaged a growing number of APA's public interest committees and divisions in grassroots advocacy, which involved attending meetings at the local offices of their U.S. senators to advance APA's legislative agenda. Topic areas included health disparities; domestic violence; suicide prevention; mental health services for children, older adults and people with HIV/AIDS; and same-sex marriage.
Concerted advocacy by public interest policy staff resulted in a $1 million increase (to a total of $4 million) for the Minority Fellowship Program of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The leadership of Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) and Reps. Ralph Regula (R-Ohio) and Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. (D-Ill.) was instrumental in this increase in funding. APA's Minority Fellowship Program, which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary, supports the training of minority mental health professionals to provide culturally competent, accessible mental health and substance abuse services for ethnically diverse populations.
Science advocacy accomplishments
Science policy staff worked persistently and with great success to garner appointments for APA scientists on high-profile advisory committees and programmatic review groups within the Department of Homeland Security and the National Institutes of Health.
Science policy staff worked proactively to secure witness slots before various congressional committees so that APA members could testify on issues ranging from research funding in the Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health to the efficacy of adolescent substance abuse prevention programs.
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