In this issue

SPTA and Diversity Updates

States are busy.

By Jennifer F. Kelly, PhD, ABPP

Georgia

2017-07-focus-kellyThe Georgia Psychological Association (GPA) recently held its annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. There were numerous featured speakers, including Susan Clayton, PhD, who presented on the impacts of environmental threats on psychological well-being and how these impacts differentially affect diverse populations. Doug Walter, JD, associate executive director for government relations with the APAPO discussed the importance of advocating for the psychology profession both in Washington, D.C., and in Atlanta. On May 21, GPA's Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee held its annual Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee diversity brunch. It was well attended and there was representation from senior, midcareer, early career and students representing numerous areas of diversity. Doug Walter discussed advocacy and, in particular, the American Health Care Act (AHCA).

Indiana

Throughout the past legislative session, members of the Indiana Psychological Association (IPA) processed over 1,000 bills to assist state representatives and senators to craft bills to increase access to care while safeguarding the profession of psychology. For example, a recent reciprocity bill guarantees protection for Hoosiers by ensuring psychologists looking to relocate to Indiana are trained to a substantially equal level as those whose license originated in Indiana. Similarly, as the implementation of telehealth moves forward, those psychologists working in community mental health centers accepting Medicaid are now eligible to receive reimbursement for these technology-forward services. Finally, in a move to quell the ever-growing substance abuse problems for Hoosiers, funding for mobile treatment teams, including psychologists interested in treating co-occurring and substance use disorders, has been approved.

The IPA recently received the APA 2017 Committee on Early Career Psychologists (ECP) Initiative Award for implementing “exemplary activities that engage and sustain psychologists early in their careers.” Most notably, the group was recognized for supporting young professionals in pursuing advocacy and leadership roles and in the practice of psychology. The Award included a small grant to support ongoing ECP efforts.

New Mexico

The New Mexico Psychological Association (NMPA), after undertaking an analysis of New Mexico's licensing fees, made a formal request to the state's Board of Psychologist Examiners at their May 5, 2017 meeting to reduce licensing fees for psychologists by an average of 16 percent. This was done after the state legislature “swept” over a half million dollars from the balance in the state's psychology fund over the past six years to support the state's general fund appropriations. NMPA hopes that by keeping the balance low, it will not only benefit psychologists licensed in New Mexico, but also make the fund less tempting to future sweeps by the legislature.

Vermont

The Telehealth Bill, S.50, has passed. Vermont Psychological Association (VPA) has worked hard on telehealth going back to 2013, following Act 107 in 2012. Rep. Ann Pugh first replied to our request for amended language to include mental health providers as eligible providers for reimbursement for telehealth services and language to remove the “on-site” health facility restriction. We received a groundswell of support from our VPA members and board as well as other mental health provider groups. As of October 2017, providers can see patients online using appropriate HIPAA-compliant apps/tools/software, and be reimbursed by insurers as long as our training/experience is up to speed and consent documentation process is in place.