Federal Advocacy Coordinator Reports/Updates

November 2020

Federal Advocacy Report
November 5, 2020
Submitted by Shahana Koslofsky, PhD
[email protected]

There were two topics for legislative advocacy this fall:

In September I sent letters to our Senators and Representatives on behalf of APA and OPA asking them to support legislation that would prevent cuts to Medicare reimbursement rates.

In October Roseann Fish Getchell and I attended an APA Advocacy Summit. There were two days of trainings and a third day of virtual meetings with the offices for Senators Merkley and Wyden and Representatives Bonamici and Bleumeanuer. Dr. Getchell and I had very productive legislative meetings where we discussed three pieces of legislation related to student loan debt;

  1. HR7761—Support of Public Loan Forgiveness for less than full time work
  2. HR6720—Expansion of Public Loan Forgiveness to private loans
  3. HR7449/S4141—allow students to re-finance their public and private loans at the new historically low rates

Looking ahead:

  1. APA will again be reaching out to Representatives and Senators to advocate for the prevention of Medicare cuts for health care professions. I am waiting for the specific details on this legislation and will keep members updated as I have more information to share.
  2. APA is preparing a formal response to Executive Order (EO) 13950 which halts many diversity training programs in federal agencies. APA strongly opposes this EO and, in addition to submitting their own response, I suspect they will reach out to us to submit comments as well.

Information on both of these issues will be forthcoming. Please stay tuned and be prepared to submit stories on how these issues impact you as a provider, business owner, recipient of services, and a constituent. As a reminder, governmental offices consistently say that personal feedback from constituents is the most important and powerful information for our congressional leaders. Your voice matters and you can make a difference.

September 2020

Federal Advocacy Report
September 3, 2020
Submitted by Shahana Koslofsky, PhD
[email protected]

This has been another busy few months for Federal Advocacy Coordinators (FACs). HR 884 (The Medicare Mental Health Access Act/Physician Definition Bill) was not included in the Energy and Commerce vote in July. In order to not lose the previous momentum related to this bill, I met with a staff member for Representative Kurt Schrader’s office (Congressional District 5) to discuss HR 884. I was joined by OPA member Dr. Marsha Green, who shared some powerful stories about the ways in which physician oversight for Medicare clients creates multiple barriers for the work she does with our most vulnerable communities. Representative Schrader’s office seemed open to hearing the information we shared and suggested that the main opposition of which they are aware is from other medical professionals. This is a common response, as some medical professionals see this legislation as a scope of practice bill. I explained all the reasons that this is not a scope of practice bill and asked for Representative Schrader’s office to help bring this legislation to a vote and consider co-sponsoring this bill.

Scott Barstow, Senior Director of Congressional and Federal Affairs at APA, and I also attended a meeting with Senator Ron Wyden where I was able to discuss the need for access to audio-only telehealth reimbursement. He was open to this idea and appeared to commit to including this in future legislation.

I was very pleased with the responses from several Oregon psychologists who were willing to share their stories about their difficulties with Medicare as it relates to these specific issues. I want to start by saying thank you!  Various presentations I have attended continue to emphasize that the most impactful advocacy work is related to the actual stories from congressional districts about the ways in which various pieces of legislation impact our lives. I will continue to reach out to OPA members as new requests arise. I encourage everyone to consider participating in this important advocacy work; I find the work to be very rewarding, and it is an important opportunity for us to use our skills as psychologist to advocate for change in meaningful ways.