Dr. Lacey Seymour, Louisiana Federal Advocacy Coordinator and Past-President of the Louisiana Psychological Association, announced in late February that the national Psychology Political Action Committee has chosen Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy as its honoree for 2019.
Senator Cassidy will be the guest of honor at a dinner to be held March 10, in Washington, DC, coinciding with the leadership conference for the American Psychological Association.
“Senator Cassidy has been a supporter of mental health legislation on both a federal and state level,” Dr. Seymour told psychologists in a recent letter. “Since his election, Senator Cassidy has championed legislation that addresses access to mental health care for our most vulnerable citizens by removing barriers to care.”
Among his achievements, Senator Cassidy worked to design and pass the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Reform Act of 2016” and first advocated mental health reforms while he served in the House of Representatives. In 2015, he introduced mental health reform legislation that became the template for the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016. He helped strengthen accountability at HHS by creating an Assistant Secretary of Mental Health and improved interdepartmental activities related to those with serious mental illness.
The measures Cassidy promoted have helped access to services through integration of primary and behavioral care, and helped establish grants that provide screenings for young children at risk of developing a serious mental illness. Cassidy’s efforts helped ensure that federal funded programs are evidence based and use best practices.
Working with a bipartisan group of senators, he introduced in 2017 the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act to require Medicare coverage for intensive behavioral therapy provided by psychologists and other mental health professionals.
Last year he worked to get a resolution adopted in the Senate recognizing suicide as a serious public health problem and expressing support for September as National Suicide Prevention Month. Also in 2018, he co-sponsored the COMBAT Act to provide certified opioid treatment services to be covered by Medicare.
“This fall,” said Seymour, “Senator Cassidy hosted the Louisiana Mental Health Summit, bringing together federal, state, and local leaders to discuss and promote the implementation of proven methods to improve mental health care in Louisiana and the country. He is currently raising awareness of the impact of dyslexia and mental health issues on incarcerated individuals in an effort to decrease recidivism,” she said.
“Dr. Cassidy has been an ardent champion for mental and behavioral health in Congress and was the lead Senate sponsor of major mental health reform legislation enacted in 2016. Last year he led the fight to preserve Medicare payment for psychological and neuropsychological testing services,” said Seymour.
“I am thrilled that the Psychology PAC has chosen to honor Senator Cassidy,” Dr. Seymour said. “It is a privilege to have a congressman from our state chosen to be recognized with this prestigious honor. It is important that we work together to represent psychologists across our state in showing our gratitude for the work Senator Cassidy has done and to elicit support for the important work in mental health that is yet to come.”
Senator Cassidy is a physician, specializing in gastroenterology. Before entering politics, he co-founded the Greater Baton Rouge Community Clinic, providing free dental and health care to the uninsured. He began his political career in 2006 in the Louisiana State Legislature and won election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008, before becoming a Senator in 2014.
Dr. Seymour is heading up a group of psychologists who will attend the fundraiser on March 10, to show support for Cassidy in his re-election bid. Dr. Seymour is asking for contributions and involvement by Louisiana psychologists. She can be reached at LaceyLSeymour@gmail.com