It’s who you know

Peter Newbould, Director of Congressional & Political Affairs for APAPO, helps members advocate on Capitol Hill for professional psychology

by Communications Staff

February 24, 2011—For 27 years, The State Leadership Conference (SLC) has brought psychology leaders to Washington, DC, to advocate for issues important to professional psychology. The four-day conference culminates in hundreds of meetings on Capitol Hill to urge members of Congress and staff to support legislative priorities such as Medicare payment for psychological services and including psychologists in the Medicare definition of “physician.”

Peter NewbouldPeter Newbould, Director of Congressional & Political Affairs for APAPO, is excited to be heading to the 28th SLC— his 20th— this March. “It’s an enormous boost to our advocacy efforts,” Newbould says, “and it’s very satisfying to methodically plan the programs and training necessary to help our members make their best case to members of Congress.”

As a lobbyist in the Government Relations Office, Newbould works with members of Congress and their staff in support of professional psychology. His duties also include those of political affairs director, coordinating legislative and grassroots strategy with the contributions made by the Association for the Advancement of Psychology’s political action committee.

Newbould frequently guides individual members about matters such as how best to communicate with elected officials and how to deal with health plans not complying with the federal mental health parity law. Prior to joining APA in May 1991, Newbould worked on the Hill for 13 years—during which “I was on the receiving end of a lot of bad lobbying and some good” —serving as chief of staff to former Congressman Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), an active member of the House Subcommittee on Health and the Environment, and health legislative assistant and then chief of staff to former Congressman Jim Florio (D-New Jersey). 

Involved in health care issues as a congressional staffer, Newbould saw joining APA as “an opportunity to work for a healing profession.” He now serves as co-chair of the Mental Health Liaison Group’s Health Policy Committee, a coalition of more than 50 national mental health organizations.  In recent years the group has produced joint position papers and Congressional testimony on parity, health care reform, Medicare, Medicaid, managed care quality standards and medical record confidentiality.  Newbould and his co-chair were key leaders in the coalition effort that led to enactment of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008

In his spare time, Newbould gives his skills to a public office, serving as the chair of the Alexandria Electoral Board, which oversees voter registration and elections in his community.

Referring to the newly elected House of Representatives, Newbould says, “The cards have been reshuffled. There’s a challenge to translate our advocacy pleas into language that newly elected members will be receptive to. The economic and budget deficits make this a difficult period for almost any type of advocacy.”

Despite this challenge, Newbould stresses, “Our doctors should never underestimate the power they as a constituent have to establish a relationship with their elected officials. Psychologists are the experts in their field and the challenge is to translate that expertise in a form that members of Congress and their staff are more receptive to hearing.”

And for nearly 20 years, he says, “I have enjoyed being the translator.”