Broad View: February

OPA’s new Strategic Plan lists that we will “advocate for public policies that promote psychological services, the field of psychology and a psychologically healthy Ohio” as one of its top goals. From the surveys and focus groups we’ve done, members place high value on our advocacy work. Since much of the good or bad things that can happen to the profession would come through state legislation and regulatory action, our state focus is critical. We have to be alert to what legislation is being introduced to be sure that we don’t miss something that could be damaging to the profession of psychology. We also have to have an agenda of initiatives that advance the practice of psychology and improve health care. We have to have relationships with legislators, administration officials and regulators to impact public policy.

It is important to realize that advocacy is not just something that OPA does for you. We do a lot of it, but what really matters is how well we inform and motivate you to get to know your legislators and advocate with them as constituents. Ohio legislators are very accessible, particularly when they are back in their district. Our Legislative Day, May 22, 2013 provides an opportunity to learn how to be a good advocate and to begin to build your relationship with your state senators and state representatives. Your voice matters.

And you need to be advocates in other realms as well. As was stated in the recent discussion about CPT code issues on the listserv, complaints you file with the Department of Insurance are critical. When we go talk to them it is really difficult to make a strong case about a problem if they haven’t been hearing from individual psychologists. Your voice actually carries more weight than ours, since you are more directly involved in the delivery of service and interacting with insurers. Your voice matters.

A point of emphasis for us this year as we pursue our strategic goals is to develop a network of OPA members that is connected to every state senator. The Senate Network will be a key focal point of our advocacy work over. Contact Bobbie Celeste or me to become part of this network. We need your voice.

We collaborate with the APA Practice Organization to be sure that advocacy at the federal level is effective. You see the action alerts that Dr. David Hayes, our Federal Advocacy Coordinator posts when Ohio psychologists are being called upon to reach out to our senators and members of Congress on key issues. Our response to these alerts is important. Ideally, OPA members will get to know our two senators and their congressperson to become a health care resource for them. Your voice matters.

Under the general advocacy statement in the plan is the goal to increase timely communication with OPA members. This is important because you need to know what we are doing. It is important that you be informed so that you can be comfortable in getting involved in advocacy and becoming a resource for your legislators. We in central office sometimes have a tendency to get immersed in doing advocacy, assuming that you will know we have your back. We need to do a better job of letting you know what we are doing. When I took time the other day to post an update on how we are addressing the CPT code problems, the response was really gratifying. I felt like Sally Field at the Oscars.

Our goals also include broadening our advocacy agenda beyond legislative efforts by including more business, insurance and public sector issues as they relate to psychologists. Here is another place you be helpful by informing us of problems, issues, or creative ideas for expanding OPA’s advocacy.

This year our agenda will include the Psychology Law, the Demonstration Project for appropriately trained and certified public sector psychologists to be authorized to prescribe medication in a select few Ohio prisons, Medicaid Expansion, Regulation of Applied Behavior Analysts and insurance reform relating to prior authorizations. At the federal level: Medicare, electronic medical records and the definition of physician are likely to be points of emphasis. We want to continue to educate the Department of Insurance and legislators about your problems with third party payers in Ohio. We are finishing up a complaint letter to the Department of Insurance on a recent problem with a major insurer in Ohio. We are working to address issues relating to the availability of internships, student loan forgiveness and health disparities. Planning for an internship consortium is underway and we are working with Medicaid to facilitate payment for supervised interns.

An important goal is to educate Ohio psychologists about the National Healthcare Plan roll-out and implications as they occur, including providing webinars and training on practice strategies needed to keep pace with changes. We had some workshops at our 2012 Convention on topics related to this and it is a primary focus of the 2013 Convention (October 30-November 1, 2013). We developed our two free webinars for OPA members on CPT codes and PQRS to help you all understand these important areas and received a great response.

The final goal in this area is to maintain OPA’s current collaborative relationships and include three new ones during each of the next three years. I was recently asked for a list of the coalitions with whom we are involved and was amazed as I created it. These coalitions link us with a broad range of organizations and magnify our impact on public policy. There is also a long list of organizations that have the potential to be one of the three new collaborations. I am anxious to see how we can work together with some of the organizations with whom we don’t have a strong relationship now.

Watch for more about our Strategic Plan!

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