2019: The DPA Year in Review

By Samantha Slaughter, PsyD
Fall 2019: Volume 75, Number 2

I started as the new Director of Professional Affairs (DPA) in January and was immediately struck by the immensity of the job. The job of DPA in Washington (I specify because we serve slightly different roles in each state) includes two main responsibilities – to act as a consultant for WSPA members and to represent WSPA as a liaison to various organizations, agencies, and community partners. These responsibilities cater to my strengths which include rapport building, creating connection, active listening, and problem solving. The main challenge that emerged was organizing and tracking the inundation of information. This challenge was compounded by a legislative session chocked full of bills related to mental health and the need to figure out the division of duties with the Legislative Advocacy Committee (LAC) that also started in January. For the first time in my life, I could not rely on my brain for the storage of important information. I struggled to track not only my DPA work, but my personal and clinical life as well. Who was I supposed to call? Where did I save that file? You get the idea… My tracking and organization of DPA-related material has improved in the last couple of months. I think I finally have a system that will work moving forward.

That system allowed me to create a list of my 2019 projects and responsibilities, which I thought was important to share with you. The next time a colleague says, “What does WSPA do?”, you can refer to this list for some of your answer.

You may not have time to finish reading the following 10 bullet points in their entirety, so please read this paragraph if nothing else. I ask you to join me in my primary project for 2020. I want to change the definition of “active membership” that I keep hearing from you. Many of you consider active members to be those who serve on the Board of Trustees or committees, give presentations, or testify about legislation in Olympia. I offer a new definition of active member – anyone who pays for a membership with WSPA. Think about it… your membership dollars make the projects on this list possible. Your membership dollars allow WSPA to work for psychologists in Washington State. Your membership dollars allow me to advocate for our profession. If that is not active membership, then I do not know what is. WSPA cannot do anything with members! If we see each other, I want you to introduce yourself as an active member of WSPA. I want you to describe yourself to colleagues as an active member of WSPA. I want you to remind yourself that you are an active member of WSPA. Help me make this definition change possible! And now, on to the 2019 list:

  • Consultant for WSPA members – I did not track member consultations in the beginning, but from June to mid-November, I consulted with 32 members on a variety of practice issues, including insurance reimbursement, insurance medical reviews, supervision, Medicare, records requests, Volk/duty to warn, CE requirements, telehealth, mandated reporting, BAAs, possible legislation, and retirement. These emails, phone conversations, video conferences, and in-person meetings are invigorating! I enjoy consulting with members and encourage you to reach out should you want to talk about the practice of psychology.
  • Participant on the Bree Collaborative’s Risk of Violence to Others Workgroup – Remember when WSPA helped you learn about and understand the implications of the Volk decision from 2016? Since then, the Washington State Legislature commissioned the University of Washington School of Law to conduct a study of “how Washington’s duty to third parties in the mental health context compares to other states, the evolution of Washington law, the concerns and views of a variety of stakeholders engaged in mental health care and services, and the likely impact on Washington state’s mental health care resources.” The report of this study was released in 2017. Then, despite the study concluding that “Volk seems to impose an undue burden on outpatient providers and one that is rife with uncertainty,” the Legislature decided to ask the Bree Collaborative to address the “uncertainty” caused by the Volk decision rather than make a legislative fix. The Bree Collaborative agreed to form a “workgroup to develop clinical recommendations.” I served as a member of this workgroup, meeting throughout 2019 to create a document to guide clinicians as we move through the landscape of Volk. A draft of this document is now available for public comment through December 27, 2019. I encourage you to read the draft and answer the brief survey. Once it is released, WSPA will hold a one-day workshop led by Tyson Bailey, PsyD and myself to review the report and to help attendees understand how to use it in their clinical practice. Watch for information on this event!
  • Fight to maintain or increase scope of practice – This relates to three different issues: the supervision criteria in the WACs for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), the consideration of a BA-level provider credential by the Dept of Health (DOH) as requested by the Legislature, and adding prescription privileges (RxP). Regarding the ABA WACs, WSPA formally petitioned for a rule change, and this change is making its way through the system. Unfortunately, it is delayed due to the 2019 Legislature passing a variety of bills that require implementation with very tight timelines. Those new laws take priority at the DOH due to their strict implementation schedules. However, I meet with the DOH monthly to get an update on our proposed WAC change. My understanding is that the official initial paperwork for making a rule change, called a CR101, was submitted and is being reviewed. Regarding the BA-level credential, WSPA submitted comments when this credential was first announced. Many of you did as well… thank you for doing so! Since then, the DOH held two of four scheduled stakeholder meetings where they hear from the public. Thank you to WSPA member and Chapter 1 President Jame Lontz, PhD for attending the Spokane meeting! I will continue to monitor the status of this proposed credential. Finally, I am attending meetings with and for the RxP Task Force as they complete the necessary steps requesting an expansion to our scope of practice. What exciting times!
  • Connect with the Legislature – Somehow, the LAC and I survived the 2019 Legislative Session in which a firehouse amount of bills related to mental health were introduced. I worked closely with the LAC as we sorted out which bills needed WSPA’s attention and which needed WSPA to act. I testified in Olympia and attended legislative meetings related to behavioral health workforce issues.
  • Consult and work with LAC – Speaking of LAC, I consulted and worked with this great team of individuals throughout the year. Board of Trustee Casey Ward, PhD, as Chair, did an outstanding job of keeping the group excited about what was happening in Olympia. We made some tweaks to the structure and communication based on our experiences this year, and I am eager to embark on the 2020 Legislative Session with my LAC colleagues.
  • Work to rebuild WSPAGS – This project is one of the highlights of 2019, for sure! The Board of Trustees (BoT) recognizes that WSPA needs to maintain a connection with our future colleagues in the various psychology graduate programs across the state. To do this, the BoT decided to rebuild our graduate student division, WSPAGS. Members of the WSPAGS Revival Team (WSPA student member Madeline Brodt; BoT President Dominika Breedlove, PsyD; BoT President-Elect Julia Mackaronis, PhD; and myself) reached out to all the graduate programs and training sites in WA. My colleagues and I attended numerous events and gave presentations to students across the state, and these meetings will continue into 2020. We are hoping to have official WSPAGS meetings in 2020 and to develop a leadership pipeline that starts in graduate school. If you work with students, talk with them about the importance of WSPA and why you are a member! Feel free to reach out to me to schedule a presentation to discuss advocacy and current trends related to psychology in Washington.
  • Implement APA pilot project enabling Medicaid to pay for trainee services – WSPAGS is not the only student-focused project. Years before agreeing to be the DPA, I requested WSPA to help me find a way for services provided by psychology interns (and other trainees) to be reimbursable by Medicaid. Medicaid reimbursement is possible in many other states, so why not in Washington? Now, as DPA, I serve on the WSPA workgroup established to make this a reality. With Dr. Breedlove in the lead, WSPA is actively engaged in this project. Working with a team from APA, we met with the Health Care Authority and Community Health Plan of Washington to discuss finding a path for reimbursement of intern services. We will meet with Molina in December. The goal is to have a pilot project start in 2020. I believe we can make this happen!
  • Change L&I policy regarding required use of WHODAS 2.0 – Psychologists who are L&I providers are required, by state law and L&I policy, to utilize the WHODAS 2.0 in the treatment of L&I claimants and to report the raw scores to L&I. Fellow WSPA member Martha Davis, PhD first alerted WSPA to the ethical dilemma created by the requirement to use this instrument and to share the raw scores. Changing L&I is a sloooooow process. However, my understanding is that L&I is actively discussing this issue. They recently asked WSPA to submit a formal letter outlining our concerns. I will get this letter to them before the end of 2019 and will continue to push for changes. In the meantime, if you are an L&I provider, please contact me for a suggestion on how to proceed until changes are made.
  • Attend Examining Board of Psychology meetings – The Examining Board of Psychology (EBOP) meets six times a year for general meetings and occasionally holds additional meetings on specific topics. Anyone can attend these meetings in-person or via teleconference. To receive notifications about the proposed agenda and meeting information, sign up on the EBOP’s website by clicking on the green “Subscribe” button at the very bottom of the page. Please let me know if you plan to attend or listen in! The EBOP and I have established a good working relationship, and they are receptive to issues important to WSPA. Working with WSPA Past-President and current member Andy Benjamin, JD, PhD, ABPP, WSPA recently petitioned for a rule change that proposes a possible fix for the Volk decision. The EBOP agreed to review our petition and will discuss it more at their January 2020 meeting.
  • Participant on the UWMC Psychology Internship Steering Committee – This committee meets approximately six times a year. The Training Director of the Psychology Internship Program, after discussing with me the importance of WSPA membership, asked the University of Washington to reimburse the Psychology faculty for WSPA membership as it does so for other faculty. The Training Director was successful in arguing his case, and UW Psychology faculty can now apply for reimbursement for WSPA dues. Let your UW Psychology faculty colleagues know about this change!

I think that covers the projects and important tasks on my list from 2019. Feel free to reach out if you have questions or comments about any of these topics – DPA@WSPApsych.org or 206-678-5658. I look forward to continuing working for you in 2020!