Legislative Updates

March 24, 2020

MPA 2020 Legislative Update

Our legislative efforts are rightly overshadowed by the current challenges. The legislature passed a bill to address some of the issues related to the COVID-19. An emergency order by the Governor has loosened restrictions on Medical Assistance such that first sessions can be provided by telehealth and telephone service will be reimbursed.

Many thanks to our Legislator of the year, several times over, Senator Jim Abeler, who has been advocating for this bill and order to address the needs of the disability community. Thanks also to Deb Kiel, one of our previous legislators of the year who helped on this front.

Prior to this emergency, which halted the Legislative session for the time being, the Minnesota Psychological Association (MPA) was making some important strides, which we hope will continue if a special legislative session is called for next session. Most importantly, both the MPA and the Minnesota Board of Psychology voted to support the PSYPACT legislation (HF3823 (Morrison), SF3762 (Matthews) that would assist with oversight and easing of licensure restrictions for telepsychology services across state lines. The bill was poised to be heard in the Health and Human Services Finance and Policy committee in the Minnesota Senate. Unfortunately, meetings had to be cancelled and other pressing issues took precedence. We received widespread support for the bill as we talked with legislators. MPA will continue to provide leadership for the PSYPACT bill. Thanks to Dr. Bruce Bobbitt for his assistance with PSYPACT and the behavior analyst licensing bill.

An additional priority is the behavior analyst licensing bill, which MPA and the Board of Psychology also both supported. This bill HF 3213 (Edelson), SF3279 (Jensen) had a hearing in the Senate Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee where it received unanimous and welcome support. The bill, which would license behavior analysts and assistant behavior analysts under the oversight of the Board of Psychology, is important for public protection and so that families using these services have a path to a complaint process if needed. Many thanks to the psychologists who worked with the behavior analysts to fashion a bill that does not negatively impact psychology’s scope of practice, including supervision of trainees and assistant behavior analysts.

Unfortunately, a bill that MPA opposed, which would allow Physician Assistants to practice with less oversight, was passed in the Senate Health and Human Services Finance and Policy Committee. The mental health community, including MPA, expressed our concerns with Physician Assistants providing care to individuals with mental illness without sufficient oversight. As a function of the delays at the legislature, moving forward, MPA will work with community partners to add limiting language that would protect individuals with serious and persistent mental illness.

While no additional hearings had been scheduled for MPA’s bill that would extend the Medical Assistance 23.7% increase to all providers, significant efforts have been underway to address a larger restructuring of rates for outpatient mental health services. MPA has been working in partnership with other community organizations (Minnesota Association of Community Mental Health Centers, Minnesota Psychiatric Society, Minnesota Association of Resources for Recovery of Chemical Health, and Aspire, Minnesota.) It is hoped that legislation for 2021 will be coming forth from these community efforts.

Also interrupted by the COVID-19 crisis was a press conference regarding the Conversion Therapy bill Dr. Marge Charmoli was to speak at the press conference and has played an important role in leadership for this key effort.

Many thanks to the MPA members, including Dr. Steve Girardeau and Dr. Matt Syzdek for their active participation in the Uniform Standards discussion with DHS, which is moving to update and modernize Minnesota’s outpatient mental health rules (Rule 47 and Rule 29) by creating standardized policies and definitions.

MPA will continue to keep you apprised of our legislative efforts. Thanks to all of you who have been contacting your legislators. Please take action when it is requested and stay safe and engage in self-care in these challenging times.

March 10, 2020

APA Federal Advocacy Coordinator of the Year Award

Dr. Trisha Stark, MPA's Federal Advocacy Coordinator, was awarded the Federal Advocacy Coordinator of the Year Award at the APA Practice Leadership Conference in Washington DC. This award is given by APA for leadership in advancing the profession of psychology through federal advocacy. MPA would like to congratulate and thank Dr. Stark for all that she does for MPA and for psychologists in Minnesota!

Left photo: Pictured left to right (Arthur C. Evans Jr., APA CEO; Trisha Stark; Sandra Shullman, APA President)
Right photo: Pictured left to right (Erika Brink, Susan McPherson, Trisha Stark, Willie Garrett, Robin McLeod, Talee Vang)

February 7, 2020

Help Minnesota be the First State to Have Complete Endorsement of the Medicare Mental Health Access Act

We are asking that you contact your Congressional Representative and Senators to ask that they support a bill (HR884 in the House and S2772 for the Senate) that would allow psychologists to be categorized just like all other doctoral level health professionals (dentists, chiropractors, podiatrists), in the “physician” category. Five of our 10 Congresspeople currently support the bill because they know it will ease access, especially in settings such as day treatment, partial hospitalization, and in skilled nursing facilities. Help us be the first state to be wholly in support of this important bill. We are providing model language for you to use in an email.

Send them an email saying,

Dear Congressperson ____________:

“I am a psychologist and your constituent. Thank you for supporting HR884, the Medicare Mental Health Access Act. Your support means that Minnesotans will have greater access to needed mental health services. Thank you for all of your efforts to support quality mental health services.”

Sincerely,

Name

Street Address

City, State, Zip

Email address

 

Send them an email saying,

“Dear Congressperson _______________:

I am a psychologist and your constituent. I am contacting you to ask that you sign on in support of HR884, the Medicare Mental Health Access Act. This bill would allow psychologists providing Medicare services to be more accurately categorized, along with all of the other doctoral level health professions (dentists, chiropractors, podiatrists), in the “physician” category. This recategorization would not change scope of practice or infringe on any other profession. The recategorization will increase much needed access to mental health services for individuals covered by Medicare in Minnesota. Passage of this bill is crucial to secure adequate access to mental health services for Minnesotans.”

Sincerely,

Name

Street Address

City, State, Zip

Email address

 

Neither of Minnesota’s Senators have signed on as cosponsors to the Senate version of the bill, S2772. Please send the following email to both of our Senators,

Amy Klobuchar  www.klobuchar.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

Tina Smith  www.smith.senate.gov/contact-tina

“Dear Senator (Klobuchar/Smith):

I am a psychologist and your constituent. I am contacting you to ask that you sign on in support of S2772, the Medicare Mental Health Access Act. This bill would allow psychologists providing Medicare services to be more accurately categorized, along with all of the other doctoral level health professions (dentists, chiropractors, podiatrists), in the “physician” category. This recategorization would not change scope of practice or infringe on any other profession. This recategorization would increase access to much needed mental health services in Minnesota. You have been a great champion for mental health concerns in the past and I’m asking you to cosponsor S2772. Please support this bill so that my training can be used to its maximum capacity for the good of Minnesotans.”

Sincerely,

Name

Street Address

City, State, Zip

Email address

 

We Need Your Help to Preserve Psychology’s Scope of Practice

Two urgent legislative issues threaten our scope of practice. They would allow unqualified individuals to provide key services and endanger the public.

First, licensed clinical social workers (LICSWs) are bringing a bill to allow them to diagnose Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) for something called 504 plans for schools. Why is this a problem? 504 plans are based on a disability determination based on a medical condition in order to provide accommodations for students. Currently only physicians, nurse practitioners, and psychologists can diagnose ADD to initiate a 504 process. Psychologists make a diagnosis of ADD based on neuropsychological factors, whereas other mental health professionals diagnose on the basis of behavior. ADD is a medical condition, not a behavioral disorder. If  LICSWs are able to diagnose ADD for purposes of initiating a 504 plan in a school, many children will  inappropriately be given a disability diagnosis that is based on a behavioral disturbance rather than a medical condition. As psychologists know, ADD is a complicated diagnosis to make, with many competing factors that must be ruled out. LICSWs do not have the skills to accurately address these multiple factors and will inappropriately give a disability diagnosis to a child based purely on behavioral manifestations. This puts children at risk. It is especially problematic as African American boys are inappropriately over-diagnosed with ADHD by community providers.

Second, Occupational Therapists (OTs) are bringing a bill that would allow them to be classified as mental health professionals. Mental health professionals are able to diagnose and treat mental health disorders. OTs have no training in mental health and should not be allowed to diagnose or treat mental health concerns using our billing codes. OTs provide an important service in assisting individuals in improving their Activities of Daily Living. That is not a mental health service. OT services should be billed as what they are, occupational therapy services.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Send an email to your state legislators. Call your legislators and let them know of these urgent concerns that threaten public safety. You can use the example below in your email and on your call. To find out who represents you click here https://www.gis.leg.mn/iMaps/districts/ Let MPA know that you have reached out to your legislators by sending an email to [email protected] If legislators have further questions that you feel you cannot answer, please email and MPA can respond for you.

Dear Representative or Senator _______________,

I am a constituent and psychologist contacting you about two critical issues that threaten public safety.

First, Licensed Independent Clinical Social Workers are attempting to change statute so that they can diagnose for purposes of initiating a 504 plan for schools. I ask you to oppose this proposal. Such a disability diagnosis is a matter of considerable weight with significant implications for a child’s life. Physicians and psychologists currently diagnose Attention Deficit Disorder for a 504 plan from a medical, neuropsychological perspective. Social workers diagnose based on behavioral manifestations, which leads to many inaccurate diagnoses that harm children. Please prevent more children from being inappropriately labeled with a disability diagnosis by opposing social work efforts to diagnose this complex condition.

Second, Occupational Therapists are seeking to be included in statute as mental health professionals. Again, I ask that you oppose this proposal. They have no training in mental health. They do work with individuals with serious mental illness, assisting with Activities of Daily Living. Help with such activities is not a mental health treatment and should not inappropriately be billed as such. Occupational Therapists cannot diagnose or treat mental illness, key features in the definition of a mental health professional. Please oppose this attempt to provide services without appropriate training that endangers the public.

Thank you for your attention to these important matters.

Name

Street address

City, MN zip code

Phone number

Email address

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CALL YOUR SENATOR AND REPRESENTATIVE, YOU CAN USE THIS SCRIPT:

Hello (Senator/Representative _____________:

My name is _________________ and I am your constituent and a licensed psychologist. I am calling today with two concerns. First Licensed Independent Clinical Social Workers are attempting to change statute to allow them to diagnose attention deficit disorder to initiate 504 plans for schools. ADD is a complicated neuropsychological condition that requires skills social workers do not have. Please oppose any efforts to allow social workers to give this weighty disability diagnosis without proper training. Additionally, Occupational Therapists are seeking to be classified as mental health professionals. They do not have the training to provide mental health services. Their interventions should be limited to the interventions covered by their licensing board. Please oppose any efforts to allow Occupational therapists to become mental health professionals. Thank you. If you have any questions feel free to contact me at (phone number).

January 22, 2020

Many thanks to Minnesota’s Congress members who are supporting HR 884, the Medicare Mental Health Access Act. Thanks to these representatives for supporting crucial access to mental health services in Minnesota.

Angie Craig
Tom Emmer
Betty McCollum
Collin Peterson
Dean Phillips

Congressman Emmer (middle) with Dr. Scott Palmer (right), Behavioral Health Specialist and Jeri Mehr (left), Supervisor for Psychotherapy of Clara's House Mental Health Services in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

Click here to read more about Congressman Emmer's visit to Clara's House with MPA member Dr. Scott Palmer.

 


Click here to view archived 2019 MPA Legislative Updates

Click here to view archived 2018 MPA Legislative Updates

Click here to view archived 2017 MPA Legislative Updates

 

Diversity Statement

The Minnesota Psychological Association actively encourages the participation of all psychologists regardless of age, creed, race, ethnic background, gender, socio-economic status, region of residence, physical or mental status, political beliefs, religious or spiritual affiliation, and sexual or affectional orientation.Although we are an organization of individuals from diverse cultures and backgrounds, the Minnesota Psychological Association also recognizes our core unifying identities as Psychologists who practice in America. We also recognize that we may hold unintentional attitudes and beliefs that influence our perceptions of and interactions with others. Within this context of unity and self-exploration, we are committed to increasing our sensitivity to all aspects of diversity as well as our knowledge and appreciation of the unique qualities of different cultures and backgrounds.We aspire to becoming alert to aspects of diversity, previously unseen or unacknowledged in our culture. In this spirit, we are committed to collaborating with multicultural groups to combat racism and other forms of prejudice as we seek to promote diversity in our society. To this end, we are dedicated to increasing our multicultural competencies and effectiveness as educators, researchers, administrators, policy makers, and practitioners.