APA Practice Organization
As APA is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization under IRS rules, it is legally limited in the amounts and types of advocacy efforts it can pursue. Providing for additional resources in order to confront persistent challenges and cultivate opportunities for practicing psychologists took a major step forward in 2001 with the advent of the APA Practice Organization. Created as a 501(c)(6) tax-exempt organization, the organization is able to engage in unrestricted advocacy in support of practicing psychologists, limited only by available resources.
An affiliate of APA, the Practice Organization's mission is to advance, protect and defend the professional practice of psychology.
In addition to American Psychological Association dues, members who are licensed practitioners pay the annual "Practice Assessment" that supports the work of the APA Practice Organization. The Practice Assessment provides vital resources to the APA Practice Organization, which aggressively promotes the professional interests of practicing psychologists in all settings. The APA is limited in doing this activity because of its tax status.
The Practice Organization works on many fronts to remove barriers to psychological services and position professional psychology for the future. The following examples represent just a few of the successes from 2008 achieved with Practice Assessment monies:
- The APA Practice Organization played a key role in achieving the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 by negotiating with traditional opponents of mental health parity, crafting legislative language and leading a coalition that supported the full parity bill. In gaining this historic law, the U.S. took a great step forward in the long fight to end insurance discrimination against those seeking treatment for mental health and substance use disorders. This success will be key in keeping mental health parity at the forefront of the upcoming national health care reform debate.
- The Practice Organization advocated for the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (H.R. 6331) that restored $45 million for psychotherapy and related services, halted the 10.6 percent Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) cut and provided a Medicare payment update for 2009. The organization also gained a provision that will phase in Medicare coinsurance parity.
- An October 2008 law — the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA) — reauthorizes for five years beginning in 2009 a grant program designed to improve mental health services delivery to non-violent offenders. The APAPO and grassroots psychologists advocated strongly for passage and funding of this legislation.
- In 2008 alone, the Practice Organization provided more than $600,000 to state, provincial and territorial psychological associations to support initiatives that protect the doctoral degree as the standard for licensure, defend and advance psychology's scope of practice, seek prescriptive authority laws and other advocacy efforts.
- In addition to helping state associations advocate for better managed care reimbursement within the bounds of antitrust law, the Practice Organization is conducting a pilot survey in selected states to gauge member satisfaction with managed care and insurance companies. This survey is designed to demonstrate to employers, consumers, state regulators and the companies themselves which ones do better or worse in providing access to psychologists, authorizing necessary care and respecting patient privacy.
Practice Assessment payers receive regular communication from APAPO including the PracticeUpdate e-newsletter, Good Practice magazine and Year in Review to share timely news and practical information with members.