On Your Behalf

APA continues support for HIV prevention

In an Oct. 18 letter to President Barack Obama, APA urged the administration to oppose efforts to reinstate a ban on the use of federal funds for needle-exchange programs. The letter, which outlined the strong research illustrating the efficacy of syringe exchange in reducing HIV transmission, was also signed by 17 other organizations.

Advocacy continues to block Medicare reimbursement cuts

At Monitor press time, the APA Practice Organization (APAPO) was continuing its advocacy to avert steep cuts to Medicare reimbursement for psychologists. On Nov. 1, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released its final rule on the 2012 Medicare fee schedule. The rule includes several payment changes that affect reimbursement for psychological services. The most substantial payment reduction involves a portion of the Medicare formula known as the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR). Although slightly better than the 29.5 percent reduction projected earlier in the year, the SGR cut for 2012 will be 27.4 percent unless Congress takes action to block it.

The SGR payment formula ties Medicare provider payments to factors related to the national economy. In recent years, the formula would have automatically cut most provider payments if Congress had not acted to postpone the scheduled payment cuts. Congress has blocked the SGR cut 12 times since 2001. Over time, these postponements protected against increasing percentage cuts in provider payments.

APAPO has lobbied Congress throughout 2011 to halt the use of the SGR. Through grassroots mobilization of psychologists in the Federal Advocacy Network and meetings with key congressional offices, APAPO has worked to educate members of Congress about the severe consequences of cuts to reimbursement for both patients and providers. 

APA facilitates introduction of interpersonal violence bill

In October, APA’s Public Interest Government Relations Office, along with APA member Jacquelyn White, PhD, from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, worked with Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) in support of the introduction of the Consolidation of Grants to Strengthen the Healthcare System’s Response to Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking Act (S. 1765). This legislation focuses on strengthening the health-care system’s response to those issues and is similar to APA-supported legislation introduced by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) in the House of Representatives earlier this year.

APA chairs Rosalynn Carter Symposium panel on domestic violence

APA’s Diane Elmore, PhD, MPH, moderated a panel on domestic violence and children at the Annual Rosalynn Carter Symposium on Mental Health Policy in Atlanta on Oct. 26.

Elmore, associate executive director of APA’s Public Interest Government Relations Office, highlighted APA’s efforts of relevance to the topic, including recent APA task forces on Children and Trauma, Resilience in the Aftermath of War, Child Maltreatment Prevention in Community Health Centers, Sexualization of Girls, and Resilience in African American Children and Adolescents. In addition, she discussed the work of the APA Violence Prevention Office and PI-GRO policy efforts, including ongoing support for the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, and the Violence Against Women Act.

Efforts continue to help child victims of trauma

APA’s Public Interest Government Relations Office joined leaders of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network to host a webinar for network members on Nov. 9, entitled “Delivering Trauma Care to Families: Policy Issues and Implications.” The event focused on policy issues related to the delivery of traumainformed evidence-based care to children and families affected by traumatic events and the role of scientists, providers and families in advocacy efforts.

APA weighs in on proposed changes to human research protections

While APA supports many of the proposed revisions to federal regulations that protect human research participants (45 CFR 46, the Common Rule), the association is concerned about other proposed changes. In a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, APA said it agreed that the Common Rule should be revised and supports such changes as:

  • Calibrating the level of review to the level of risk of harm.

  • Expanding exempt research categories, but APA urges the Office of Human Research Protections to retain the current practice for exempt studies rather than adopt the proposed “excused research model,” which requires that the research meet onerous data security and information protection standards, as well as informed consent requirements in some instances.

  • Periodically reviewing and revising the list of research activities that are exempt or that qualify for expedited review. However, APA also expresses strong concerns about other proposed revisions and their potential impact on the conduct of behavioral and psychological science research. For example, APA opposes:

  • The new requirements for data security and information protection based on the HIPAA Privacy Rule.

  • The inclusion of prescriptive language for consent forms, since it would be inappropriate for many types of research and thus increase administrative burden.

The call for broad, general, open-ended consent for unspecified future use of data. APA believes this threatens the fundamental ethical principle of respect for people. APA’s full comments are available online (PDF, 187KB).