Federal Advocacy News: Spring 2017

Spring 2017: Volume 73, Number 1
By: Samantha Slaughter, Psy.D.

As your Federal Advocacy Coordinator, I am privileged to be a part of the team representing you at the American Psychological Association Practice Organization’s annual Practice Leadership Conference (PLC; formerly known as the State Leadership Conference). For those of you unfamiliar with the APAPO, it was established in 2001 to work alongside the American Psychological Association (APA) with the distinct focus of advocacy for the practice community. APA cannot participate in advocacy work due to rules set by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for 501(c)(3) organizations. This makes the Practice Organization, a 501(c)(6) organization, a valuable ally to psychologists who are practicing clinicians. The APA focuses on the subject of psychology while the Practice Organization focuses on the practice of psychologists. To do this, the Practice Organization stays informed about national issues affecting the practice of psychologists and helps states in state-specific advocacy issues.

For this year’s Practice Leadership Conference, the theme was “Practice, Politics & Policy.” Topics included, but were not limited to, the current political climate, alternative payment models, how to hire an executive director, clinical practice guidelines, and attracting early career psychologists to your association. In addition to presentations and workshops, the Practice Leadership Conference culminates in visits with our Senators and Representatives in Congress. This year’s focus was prevention of a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act without a replacement and bills in the House and Senate that would include psychologists in the “physician” definition used by Medicare. We visited all but three offices and spoke with various legislative assistants (LAs) about these topics.

I had the pleasure of sitting in Rep. Kilmer’s chair during our Capitol Hill visits.

Regarding adding psychologists to the group of practitioners included in the definition of “physician” by Medicare, we added Representative Derek Kilmer, D-6th District, as a cosponsor on H.R. 1173. Congressman Kilmer cosponsored the bill last year, and we were glad to hear he was willing to do so again. Since PLC, I have spoken with an assistant for Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-3rd District, who stated the Congresswoman is a possible yes for cosponsorship. We have lobbied about this issue every year of my participation in PLC. It is important for our psychologist colleagues in hospitals and other medical institutions because not being a part of the definition means they have to be supervised by a physician, resulting in notes needing to be signed off on and being unable to work independently even though our license allows us to do so. In addition, not being included in the definition means that our jobs at such facilities are unprotected and are therefore some of the first on the chopping block when cuts have to be made. Many of our colleagues in our state hospitals have lost their jobs because of this. Also, and most importantly, no state hospital psychologists equals no one providing behavioral health treatment to patients with dementia who make up the largest number of residents in our state hospitals.

You can read more and see the progress on all these bills by searching for them at https://www.congress.gov/. Want to let your Congressperson know your thoughts or that you want her or him to support these bills? Find your Congressperson’s contact information here: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members.

Overall, and as usual, PLC left me exhausted and energized at the same time. It has been a pleasure serving as your Federal Advocacy Coordinator for the last six years. As always, please feel free to email me any questions you may have about the conference or our advocacy efforts at the national level – SamanthaSlaughterPsyD@gmail.com.

Samantha Slaughter, PsyD

WSPA Federal Advocacy Coordinator