APA Practice Organization joins coalitions on health care reform

The APA Practice Organization (APAPO) has joined two coalitions, Divided We Fail and Health Care First, in preparation for playing a leadership role in health care reform

by Government Relations Staff

May 22, 2008 — For more than a decade, as health care costs spiraled upward and the number of Americans without health insurance continued to rise, health care reform remained on the back burner of the national political agenda.

Yet certain factors suggest that health care reform may regain the national spotlight in 2009. There is growing concern about the ailing U.S. health care system among consumers, health professionals and congressional leaders. Meanwhile, all of the major presidential candidates have focused attention on health care reform.

The APA Practice Organization (APAPO) considers health care reform an important legislative priority and recognizes that there is strength in numbers when working on such a complex and high-profile issue. As a result, the APAPO recently joined two new health care reform coalitions.

Engaging in coalitions is intended to help set the stage for APAPO's active involvement as the issue of health care reform regains prominence. "Our participation will position us to promote necessary change as a key player in the debate," said Assistant Executive Director for Government Relations Marilyn Richmond, JD. "We intend to be part of the debate and part of the solution."

Health Care First

In April, the APAPO accepted an invitation to be a founding member of Health Care First, a collaboration of consumer and provider associations working to involve additional advocacy organizations in achieving comprehensive reform in 2009.

Spearheaded by Families USA, which advocates for high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans, Health Care First is hosting briefings by prominent pollsters and strategists. These events are intended to educate coalition members about current public opinion on health care reform and to showcase messages that resonate with both the public and policy makers.

Health Care First anticipates taking an active role in supporting comprehensive health care reform legislation.

Divided We Fail

In addition, the APAPO also has signed on as a supporting organization of Divided We Fail. This coalition of more than 80 groups was organized by AARP, the Business Roundtable, the Service Employees International Union and the National Federation of Independent Business. Divided We Fail will work to educate the public about the importance of good health coverage as a key component of long-term financial security.

Through Divided We Fail, the APAPO will cultivate opportunities throughout the U.S. for psychologists to participate in town hall meetings, press conferences and community forums.

Affiliating with these coalitions is one component of the APAPO's preparations for playing a leadership role once the next session of Congress takes up health care reform. "Together with our allies and using our three-part strategy of direct lobbying, grassroots mobilization and political giving, psychology is working to ensure that one day soon all Americans will have access to affordable health care," said Richmond.

The APA Practice Organization's coalition efforts are guided by the four principles for health care reform approved by the APA Council of Representatives in August 2007:

  1. Everyone should have coverage that provides affordable health care for all basic services.

  2. Basic health care services eliminate the artificial distinction between "mental" and "physical" health, recognize the inseparable relationship between mental and physical well being and offer access to treatment for "mental health conditions" equivalent in all respects to access for "physical health conditions."

  3. Basic health care services include the psychological treatment of physical conditions in order to maximize rehabilitation and quality of life.

  4. Basic health care services include appropriate prevention services that address the role that behavior plays in seven of the ten leading causes of mortality and morbidity.