James M. Georgoulakis, PhD
By Diane M. Pedulla, JD
Practicing psychologists lost a long-time advocate with the passing on Aug. 26 of James (Jim) Georgoulakis, PhD. During his career as a psychologist, Jim argued strongly for appropriate reimbursement for psychotherapy, testing, and health and behavior assessment and intervention services. In 2005, Jim received a Presidential Citation from APA President Ron Levant for his work on behalf of practicing psychologists.
Speaking for psychologists
From the 1990s to 2015, Jim represented APA before the American Medical Association/Specialty Society Resource-Based Relative Value Update Committee (RUC) and its subcommittee of non-physician providers known as the Health Care Professionals Advisory Committee (RUC HCPAC). The RUC is responsible for recommending relative values for services provided by healthcare professionals, a critical factor in determining psychologists’ payment for psychological services.
Making a presentation at a RUC meeting for new or updated relative values is referred to as being in the hot seat and is not for the faint of heart. Every healthcare specialty at the RUC has a vested interest in any new relative value recommendations, as an increase for one service must often be offset by decreases for others, with Medicare being the prime example. The questions come hard and fast and in the case of psychology, often require educating other providers about what the delivery of mental and behavioral health services involves. Jim was in the hot seat for APA several times over the years.
Researcher, teacher, lawyer and soldier
Prior to his role representing APA at RUC meetings, Jim served on a technical consulting group created to examine relative values for clinical psychology services as part of a national study for the Health Care Financing Administration (now the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services). Conducted under the direction of Harvard School of Public Health Professor William C. Hsiao, PhD, the Hsiao study of relative values for physicians and other healthcare professionals led to a major change in reimbursement for healthcare services in Medicare and private health insurance.
Jim had a love of learning that few people could match. In addition to his doctorate in psychology from Kansas State University, Jim also earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Arkansas, an education specialist degree in counseling from Western Kentucky State University, a master’s in business from Our Lady of the Lake University and a law degree from Concord Law School. He was a psychology professor for many years at Webster University in San Antonio, Texas, where he was awarded the prestigious William T. Kemper Excellence in Teaching Award.
Jim served on active duty in the U.S. Army for 20 years and held the rank of lieutenant colonel. He was a clinical professor in the Master of Social Work Program for the United States Army Academy of Health Sciences at Fort Sam Houston.
Condolences to Jim’s family can be posted online.