Leaders at the State Leadership Conference explored how
psychologists can get involved as implementation of the
Affordable Care Act kicks into high gear.
BY REBECCA A. CLAY
Full implementation of the Affordable Care Act is coming quickly, Katherine C. Nordal, PhD, cautioned at the opening session of the 2013 State Leadership Conference.
To address these and other challenges, Nordal said
psychologists must promote the strengths they bring to health
care. They must also be open to opportunities for applying their
expertise in new ways and settings, such as in the integrated
practice models health-care reform promotes.
APAPO is helping to make that possible, said Nordal. The
organization is working with states to change laws preventing
psychologists from forming multidisciplinary practices with
other health-care professionals, promoting legislation to allow
psychologists to join hospital medical staffs and working
to overturn laws restricting psychologists’ participation in
Medicaid. APAPO is also helping states push for full inclusion
of psychological services within the essential health benefits
packages in the new health insurance exchanges.
Grassroots advocacy by psychologists now is key, Nordal
said, pointing out that it took them almost 25 years to be
included as providers in Medicare. “We can’t afford to be left
out of health care again and then have to spend decades playing
catch-up,” she said.
Mark B. McClellan, MD, PhD, director of the Engelberg
Center for Health Care Reform and chair of health policy studies
at the Brookings Institution, also encouraged psychologists and
other health-care professionals to take the lead in reforming
health care. “The public doesn’t trust government or insurers,”
he said. “The people they trust are you: psychologists, physicians,
nurses and others involved in care.”
That means psychologists and other clinicians shouldn’t
focus their advocacy energy on trying to boost reimbursement
rates, said McClellan, a former administrator of the Centers
for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It’s true, he said, that the