Psychologist mobilization campaign off to strong start

Grassroots members tell Congress to include psychologists in the physician definition

By Government Relations staff

June 21, 2012—In just the first four days since the launching of a nationwide mobilization to persuade Congress to include psychologists in Medicare’s “physician” definition, grassroots psychologists sent more than 23,000 messages to their legislators on Capitol Hill.

The burst of grassroots activity followed the APA Practice Organization’s (APAPO) recent implementation of an enhanced software program to more efficiently communicate with and mobilize grassroots psychologists in legislative advocacy.

Practicing psychologists have traditionally sent messages to Congress on issues critical to their patients and the profession by visiting the Legislative Action Center on Practice Central, the APA Practice Organization website. The Legislative Action Center is powered by Capwiz, a software program that enables psychologists to communicate with their legislators.

APAPO’s state and territorial Federal Advocacy Coordinators (FAC), tasked with mobilizing grassroots support for APAPO’s legislative priorities, now utilize an enhanced Capwiz system to communicate directly with their members. The system enables FACs to reach all of APAPO’s membership quickly and efficiently.

In all of 2011, psychologists sent approximately 13,000 messages about the “physician” definition. Combining the power of our enhanced system with additional reinforcement by our Division FACs, we are improving our voice and making psychology an even stronger force in Washington.

In addition to advocating for reimbursement for psychological services, including psychologists in Medicare’s physician definition is one of the APA Practice Organization’s key legislative priorities in 2012. Psychologists are the only Medicare providers required to have doctoral training who are still excluded from the Medicare physician definition.

Bills sponsored by Sen. Snowe (S. 483) and Rep. Schakowsky (HR 831) to include psychologists in the definition have gained bipartisan support. This effort was bolstered by the 2012 State Leadership Conference, during which psychology leaders held more than 300 meetings with their members of Congress and staff, generating positive feedback about professional psychology’s initiative.

Meanwhile, organized psychiatry continues its efforts to prevent psychologists from operating independent of inappropriate physician supervision.

Visit the Legislative Action Center and tell your Senator and Representative to include psychologists in the physician definition.