State Leadership Conference

Most everyone in the United States agrees that the events of Sept. 11 have shaped our future in ways we could never have foreseen.

Psychologists, certainly, are keenly aware of the changes in people's attitudes through their work with clients and their own changed perspectives.

"The terrorist attacks had a profound effect on us as individuals, as a profession, as a community and a nation," said Russ Newman, PhD, JD, APA's executive director for practice, at the keynote presentation at the 2002 State Leadership Conference. "We've all been touched by these events. Life will never be the same again." As a result of the attacks, people have a new found desire to be resilient in the face of continuing challenges and seem more open to psychological process and self-discovery than before, he said.

Now more than ever, Newman added, psychology has "an opportunity and a responsibility to contribute in one of the most important events of our time."

He praised the field for the work already done--its rapid mobilization to become part of the response to Sept. 11, saying psychologists were "on the front lines, reaching beyond consulting rooms and offices and into the community." Sixteen state psychological associations were involved in APA's Disaster Response Network and the American Red Cross efforts.

Though they pale in comparison to the magnitude of Sept. 11, many other significant events have occurred in the field since the last State Leadership Conference, said Newman, such as:

  • A historic victory on the prescription privileges (RxP) front. Newman gave a special commendation to New Mexico's Elaine LeVine, PhD--whose work at the state capital for RxP kept her from attending the conference--and Mario Marquez, PhD, both of whom were instrumental in the recent legislative win for psychologists. (See April Monitor). Newman said New Mexico could begin a domino effect in many of the 13 states that have introduced RxP legislation.

  • An increased concern about phantom managed-care panels. California passed a law against the practice, in which managed-care provider lists are incorrect or out-of-date, promising providers that aren't really available. The Virginia Association of Clinical Psychologists lawsuit against Blue Cross/Blue Shield of the National Capital Area "is likely to be the first courtroom challenge to phantom panels," Newman said.

  • Measured progress on patients' rights legislation. On the federal level, parity supporters have vowed to renew efforts, and talk of discussions between President Bush and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) seems promising. Newman said APA will continue to make the Mental Health Equitable Treatment Act--which passed the Senate and was shelved in a conference committee this year--a legislative priority. The act calls for equal insurance coverage for mental health and physical health. On the state level, New Jersey and West Virginia passed health plan liability laws, which allow patients to hold managed-care companies legally accountable for their decisions. Five additional states have achieved mental health parity--Rhode Island, Kansas, Illinois, Delaware and Arizona.

  • Preparation for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Psychologists will have to comply with HIPAA privacy rules by 2003. (See related story) Newman promised attendees they'd "all know more about HIPAA next year than they ever wanted to know."

  • Development of the APA Practice Organization Practitioner Portal, set to launch at the Annual Convention in August. The portal is an Internet-based resource that will provide practitioners with the information and tools they need to manage their practices.

  • Continued work on the International Classification of Functioning, a classification system based on human functioning, rather than disease, is strong, with APA driving the work on an ICF manual for providers.

Newman called for all psychologists to come together like never before to show the public how psychology makes a difference in their lives. "There are as many front lines as there are communities," he said.