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News & Press: Legislative Updates

APA Legislative Update, January 2019

Friday, January 11, 2019  
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Amanda Chesley Blecha, Esq.
Regional Field Director, State Government Affairs, American Psychiatric Association

Make Your Voice Heard on Capitol Hill! Join APA March 11-12, for the 2019 APA Federal Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C. The event offers a unique opportunity to lobby members of Congress on issues that affect psychiatry and our patients.  Before holding face-to-face meetings with federal legislators and staff, attendees will learn first-hand APA’s legislative agenda for the first session of the 116th Congress.  The experience will include insights from APA’s leadership and staff on the inner workings of Congress and the legislative process as well as hands-on advocacy training to help prepare attendees to go on the Hill.  

APA and its District Branches/ State Associations Promote Legislation to Increase Access to Care in State Legislatures this Session: State legislatures are convening across the country as APA and its district branches and state associations (DB/SAs) are promoting proposals to increase access to care and ensure safe prescribing. APA is leading a national effort to ensure insurers are in full compliance with the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, landmark legislation designed to ensure equal access to mental health and substance abuse treatment.  APA crafted model parity legislation for all 50 states that would require transparency and accountability from insurers and state regulators regarding their compliance with mental health parity laws.

Although current law requires equal coverage for mental health and substance use disorder services as any other medical condition, many insurers do not fully comply.  The proposed legislation establishes reporting requirements, specifies how states can implement parity, and eliminates managed care barriers.  Bills were recently introduced in California and New Jersey and more will be filed shortly.

In addition, APA has revised its model collaborative care legislation, which is being customized for two Midwestern states and introduced this session.  The APA is a strong advocate of the Collaborative Care Model and has created a number of resources for members to seek Medicaid payment for it. Besides legislative action, APA’s Policy staff has also participated in meetings with our district branches and other state governments to turn on the codes.