As a 501(c)(3) organization, APA is legally limited in the amounts and types of advocacy it can pursue on behalf of professional psychology. Providing for additional resources in order to tackle persistent challenges and obstacles facing practitioners took a major step forward in 2001 with the advent of the APA Practice Organization.
The association established the APA Practice Organization (APAPO) as a companion to APA that advocates exclusively on behalf of practitioners' professional interests. Organized as a 501(c)(6) organization under Internal Revenue Service rules, APAPO is able to engage in unrestricted advocacy on behalf of professional psychology. Licensed APA members who provide services in the health or mental health field or who supervise those who provide such services pay an annual Practice Assessment to help fund the APA Practice Organization's advocacy agenda. These monies provide a crucial source of funding for practitioner advocacy beyond APA, which continues to support practitioners with activities that are permitted for 501(c)(3) organizations, says Russ Newman, PhD, JD, APA's executive director for professional practice.
APAPO's primary purpose is to advocate for the practice community in the nation's legislatures, courts, marketplace and the media. Following are a few examples of how resources provided by the Practice Assessment, which was initiated by practitioners, have recently been put to work for professional psychology and those who need psychological services:
Grassroots practitioners and psychology representatives successfully advocated with members of Congress and their staff to retain access to mental health evaluations for low-income children under Medicaid and reverse cuts in Medicare payment levels.
APAPO represented psychology's interests in a nationwide class action lawsuit against CIGNA and 12 other managed-care companies and helped APA members file claims in 2005 for payouts resulting from the lawsuit settlement.
After years of advocacy efforts, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services finally recognized a "professional work value" for psychologists' testing services that helped boost 2006 Medicare payment amounts for certain testing services by as much as 122 percent in some geographic areas.
APAPO's Committee for the Advancement of Professional Practice provides hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to support activities of the state, provincial and territorial psychological associations that benefit professional psychology--including monies specifically earmarked for prescriptive authority initiatives.
The APA Practice Organization offers information, tools and resources to help psychologists meet the complicated demands of practice and better serve their clients. Members who pay the Practice Assessment have access to APAPO's Web site, APApractice.org, which includes information, products and services specifically tailored to practitioners. They also receive practical information and updates via the PracticeUpdate e-newsletter, along with the support of Practice Directorate staff.
The Practice Assessment remained at the same level for several years. As APA does with its dues, the Practice Assessment now incorporates an annual cost-of-living increase that enables it to keep pace with inflation. For more information about the Practice Assessment, visit APApractice.org.
--COMPILED BY PRACTICE DIRECTORATE