Four psychologists talked with members of Congress about legislation impacting the public and involving healthcare. Representing the Louisiana Psychological Association (LPA) were Drs. Alan Coulter, LPA President-Elect; Lucinda DeGrange, LPA Council Representative; Amanda Raines, Early Career Psychologist Representative; and Lacey Seymour, Louisiana Federal Advocacy Coordinator. The psychologists also attended a black tie dinner honoring Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy sponsored by the Psychology Political Action Committee, held in March in Washington, DC.
While in D.C. the psychologists helped lobby for legislation, said Dr. Seymour. These efforts included these topics:
1) to ensure access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment;
2) to pass the Medicare Mental Health Access Act, H.R. 884. The bill removes a roadblock that hampers and delays mental health treatment for Medicare beneficiaries by ending unnecessary physician sign-off and oversight of psychologists’ services. Private sector health plans, the Veterans Health Administration, and TRICARE all allow licensed clinical psychologists to practice independently in all inpatient and outpatient settings. Medicare should, too; and
3) to pass the Mental Health Telemedicine Expansion Act, H.R. 1301. The Mental Health Telemedicine Expansion Act would make it easier for older adults to obtain mental health care in their own home by removing current-law restrictions on the use of telehealth services.
“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.”
Senator Cassidy has promoted measure to helped access to services through integration of primary and behavioral 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.