The Practice Assessment: What you need to know

Answers to common member questions about the annual payment supporting the work of the APA Practice Organization

By The Practice Directorate Executive Office

November 20, 2008 — In addition to American Psychological Association (APA) dues, members who are licensed practitioners pay the annual "Practice Assessment" that supports the work of the APA Practice Organization (APAPO). An affiliate of APA, the APAPO's mission to advance, protect and defend the professional practice of psychology is supported by Practice Assessment payments.

This article provides answers to common questions from APA members about the Practice Assessment.

Why is the Practice Assessment needed?

The Practice Assessment provides vital resources to the APA Practice Organization, which assertively promotes the professional interests of practicing psychologists in all settings. The APA is limited in doing this activity because of its tax status.

APA's practitioner members established the Practice Assessment more than 20 years ago to provide extra resources needed beyond APA dues to accomplish the complex job of advancing practitioners' interests.

As APA is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization under IRS rules, it is legally limited in the amounts and types of advocacy efforts it can pursue. Providing for additional resources in order to confront persistent challenges and cultivate opportunities for practicing psychologists took a major step forward in 2001 with the advent of the APA Practice Organization. Created as a 501(c)(6) tax-exempt organization, the APAPO is able to engage in unrestricted advocacy in support of practicing psychologists, limited only by available resources.

How does the Practice Assessment benefit me?

The APAPO works on many fronts to remove barriers to psychological services and position professional psychology for the future. The following examples represent just a few of the successes from 2008 achieved with Practice Assessment monies:

  • The APA Practice Organization played a key role in achieving the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 by negotiating with traditional opponents of mental health parity, crafting legislative language and leading a coalition that supported the full parity bill. In gaining this historic law, the U.S. took a great step forward in the long fight to end insurance discrimination against those seeking treatment for mental health and substance use disorders. This success will be key in keeping mental health parity at the forefront of the upcoming national health care reform debate.

  • The APAPO advocated for the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (H.R. 6331) that restored $45 million for psychotherapy and related services, halted the 10.6 percent Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) cut and provided a Medicare payment update for 2009. The APAPO also gained a provision that will phase in Medicare coinsurance parity.

  • An October 2008 law — the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA) — reauthorizes for five years beginning in 2009 a grant program designed to improve mental health services delivery to non-violent offenders. The APAPO and grassroots psychologists advocated strongly for passage and funding of this legislation.

  • In 2008 alone, the APAPO provided more than $600,000 to state, provincial and territorial psychological associations to support initiatives that protect the doctoral degree as the standard for licensure, defend and advance psychology's scope of practice, seek prescriptive authority laws and other advocacy efforts.

  • In addition to helping state associations advocate for better managed care reimbursement within the bounds of antitrust law, the APAPO is conducting a pilot survey in selected states to gauge member satisfaction with managed care and insurance companies. This survey is designed to demonstrate to employers, consumers, state regulators and the companies themselves which ones do better or worse in providing access to psychologists, authorizing necessary care and respecting patient privacy.

Practice Assessment payers receive regular communication from APAPO including the PracticeUpdate e-newsletter, Good Practice magazine and Year in Review to share timely news and practical information with members.

Who pays the Practice Assessment?

Licensed APA members who provide health or mental health services or supervise those who do pay the Practice Assessment, which supports the work of APA Practice Organization on behalf of professional psychology. The Practice Assessment is included in a separate section in the APA member dues statements The base Practice Assessment amount of $140 for 2011 is noted on the APA dues statements sent in September 2010. (Certain limited adjustments described below may apply.)

Why does the Practice Assessment increase each year?

As APA does with its dues, the APA Practice Organization adjusts the Practice Assessment annually by a cost-of-living increase based on the consumer price index. This adjustment enables the assessment to keep pace with inflation. For example, the base Practice Assessment increased four dollars from $133 for the 2008 dues year to $137 for 2009.

Can I pay a reduced fee?

Several categories of members are able to claim an "adjustment" that results in a reduced Practice Assessment or no payment due.

For example, early career psychologists licensed for 12 months or less pay $25, while those licensed for 13 to 24 months pay $75.

Members engaged in the provision of health or mental health services or clinical supervision thereof for less than five hours per week pay a Practice Assessment of $85. This adjustment may apply, for example, to an early career psychologist raising a family or to a late-career psychologist winding down his or her practice.

Licensed psychologists who are not engaged in providing any health or mental health services (including supervising those who do provide those services) can elect to pay no Practice Assessment. Such psychologists claim an adjustment on their dues statement reflecting their non-practitioner work settings. These adjustments include: employed solely as an academic administrator or faculty member (e.g., dean, professor); employed solely in a non-health-related capacity by public or private organizations (e.g., research consultant, I/O consultant); employed solely in providing education-related services in an institutional setting. Finally, APA members who qualify for Full Life Status or reduced dues as a result of hardship pay no Practice Assessment.

The list of "Practice Assessment Adjustments" and corresponding payment due for each is included annually in the APA Dues Statement Instructions.

Why isn't the Practice Assessment part of my APA dues?

As noted earlier, Practice Assessment monies support the work of the APA Practice Organization, a legally separate entity with a different IRS status than APA. As a result, Practice Assessment payments are not part of your APA membership dues, although they are billed on your APA dues statement.

The APA Practice Organization is housed administratively in the Practice Directorate, which also provides services for the 501(c)(3) APA on behalf of practicing psychologists and consumers of psychological services.