Advocacy in action: 2014 successes at the state level

These brief summaries of state-level achievements are based on descriptions provided by state, provincial and territorial psychological association (SPTA) leaders.

Legislative and regulatory advocacy initiatives by state, provincial and territorial psychological associations (SPTA) are vital for advancing and protecting the practice of psychology. The American Psychological Association Practice Organization (APAPO) supports this crucial advocacy work because we can accomplish much more for professional psychology in collaboration with SPTAs. Following are just a few of the advocacy successes that SPTAs have achieved in 2014.

Connecticut Psychological Association

Under a new law passed on June 13, 2014, psychologists and other mental health professionals licensed in Connecticut are now able to participate in Medicaid as providers, effective July 1, 2014.

District of Columbia Psychological Association

The District of Columbia Psychological Association (DCPA) presented a document to the City Council Committee on Health supporting a bill that would ban conversion therapy of minors. The “Conversion Therapy for Minors Prohibition Amendment Act of 2013” passed in late November. D.C. joins California and New Jersey in banning efforts by licensed mental health providers to seek to change a minor’s sexual orientation “including efforts to change behaviors, gender identity or expression, or to reduce or eliminate sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward a person of the same sex or gender.” 

Illinois Psychological Association

The Illinois Psychological Association (IPA) achieved passage of the landmark Illinois bill, SB 2187, which gives prescriptive authority for psychotropic medications to licensed clinical psychologists with advanced, specialized training in clinical psychopharmacology and medicine. The bill passed the State House of Representatives 94-21 on May 29, 2014, with a unanimous concurrence vote in the State Senate of 57-0 on May 30, 2014, just minutes before the close of the spring legislative session. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn on June 25, 2014. 

Since then, IPA has submitted draft language of the rules and regulations implementing the law to the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation. IPA will continue its leadership in the rule-writing phase until the law becomes effective. IPA is also working to enroll educational institutions and medical training facilities throughout the state in the training of prescribing psychologists.

Indiana Psychological Association

The Indiana Psychological Association (IPA) passed SEA 88, removing the requirement for a psychiatrist to be one of the three experts appointed by a judge when an insanity defense is raised. The bill changes the psychiatrist requirement to only cases involving homicide, and also requires at least one psychologist be included for homicide cases. This success is the culmination of several years of work and built on our success in 2012 when similar legislation regarding competency to stand trial was passed.

IPA also helped protect the privacy of students who receive mental health services and adults who are committed. IPA’s efforts ensured that the release of student mental health records to schools (at the request of parents or guardians) is limited, HIPAA requirements must be followed and a provision of immunity for providers is included.

Kentucky Psychological Association

The Kentucky Psychological Association successfully opposed an unanticipated bill related to applied behavior analysis (ABA) that would have encroached on psychologists’ ability to provide behavioral services. 

Significant progress was made on the regulatory side in opening the Medicaid Behavioral Health network to include all psychological service providers and in assuring parity in the insurance plans offered by the Health Benefit Exchange. 

Massachusetts Psychological Association

Massachusetts Psychological Association (MPA) achieved passage of a bill requiring health plans to make medical necessity criteria easily available to all providers and consumers. 

MPA also effectively blocked a bill that would have independently licensed lay psychoanalysts and other individuals who claim to provide psychotherapy but have never completed the educational and training requirements associated with any recognized profession with psychotherapy within its scope of practice. 

Ohio Psychological Association

The Ohio Psychological Association successfully lobbied the Department of Medicaid for changes in its rules governing “in-the-room” supervision of interns to allow interns more flexibility to work independently while still under supervision, and to still be paid by Medicaid. We worked with our Psychology Board to develop legislation that updated our psychology law and spearheaded the lobbying effort to get the bill passed and signed. 

Pennsylvania Psychological Association

Pennsylvania enacted a law that allows courts to appoint psychologists as examiners of persons for their competency to stand trial and to determine if they qualify for an insanity plea. Previously Pennsylvania law only allowed courts to appoint physicians to conduct evaluations of competence to stand trial. The defense could hire psychologists as evaluators, but the courts could not appoint psychologists for evaluations. At PPA’s request, Rep. Glen Grill introduced a bill to change that. The bill was signed into law in 2014.