Hundreds of psychology leaders call on Congress

The 2010 State Leadership Conference culminated in over 300 meetings of SLC participants with their members of Congress and Capitol Hill staff for grassroots advocating for professional psychology

by Government Relations Staff

March 31, 2010 — Nearly 500 psychology leaders from across the United States and its territories, as well as Canada, participated in the 27th annual State Leadership Conference (SLC) held March 6-9 in Washington, DC. Following briefings by government relations staff for the American Psychological Association Practice Organization (APAPO), attendees headed to Capitol Hill. The conference culminated in more than 300 meetings of SLC participants with their members of Congress and staff.

The grassroots advocates for professional psychology called on congressional officials to:

  • Extend through 2011 the restoration of outpatient mental health reimbursement cut by CMS

  • Make psychologists eligible for psychotherapy and evaluation and management (E&M) code reimbursement

  • Add psychologists to the Medicare “physician” definition

  • Pass health reform that integrates psychological services in primary care, preventative services and benefit packages

SLC participants include state, provincial and territorial psychological association (SPTA) leaders, as well as division and other APA governance officials. Attendees include SPTA presidents and presidents-elect, executive directors and directors of professional affairs, representatives of APA Graduate Students (APAGS), and others. The Committee for the Advancement of Professional Practice (CAPP) and many SPTAs also provide funding for Diversity and Early Career Psychologist Delegates to attend the conference.

The annual conference has become a primary instrument for achieving legislative advocacy successes such as mental health parity. The four-day conference also includes numerous opportunities for education and networking among psychology leaders.

Visits to legislators on Capitol Hill are a critical component of ongoing relationship building, said Katherine C. Nordal, PhD, Executive Director for Professional Practice, in her keynote speech to SLC attendees.

“These meetings with your members of Congress are often described as the capstone event of the conference,” said Nordal.

“But they are not the end point in this advocacy journey. As the conference closes, the work of the SLC is just getting started. When you return home to your states and provinces, and our APA Practice staff members return to their offices, we take with us tools and training from four days of intense activity, along with the seeds of critical connections we make on Capitol Hill.”