Nationwide psychologist mobilization campaign highlights "physician" definition

APAPO is looking to its members to help increase the number of bill cosponsors

By Government Relations staff

June 7, 2012—The APA Practice Organization (APAPO) just launched a broad-based mobilization of grassroots psychologists nationwide as the next phase in its campaign to persuade Congress to include psychologists in Medicare’s “physician” definition, one of APAPO’s key legislative priorities in 2012.

Psychologists are essential Medicare mental health providers, delivering nearly half of the psychotherapy services to Medicare beneficiaries in the hospital outpatient setting and more than 70 percent of the psychotherapy services in the hospital inpatient, partial hospital and residential care settings. Including psychologists in the physician definition would ensure that psychologists are able to provide Medicare mental health services without the burden of unnecessary physician supervision requirements that hinder patient access.

Despite the fact that psychologists are the only Medicare providers required to have doctoral training who are still excluded from the Medicare physician definition, organized psychiatry continues its efforts to prevent psychologists from operating independent of inappropriate physician supervision.

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.

APAPO is now looking to its members to help increase the number of bill cosponsors. Visit the Legislative Action Center and tell your Senator and Representative to include psychologists in the physician definition.