I recently had the privilege of attending APA’s Practice Leadership Conference as OPA’s new Director of Professional Affairs. As many of you may know, an important feature of the conference is the attendee’s advocacy efforts on behalf of professional psychology at the national level. State leaders participate in a series of meetings with their respective state’s senators and representatives to advocate for key issues which affect our profession. The impending changes in the Affordable Care Act currently being considered by Congress were obviously at the top of our list of crucial issues to discuss. Most of our direct interaction was with Legislative Assistants from each Member’s office, and on the eve of our scheduled appointments, the ACA replacement legislation was formally introduced to Congress. As you may imagine, a disquieting attitude gripped Capitol Hill this past Tuesday as our discussions moved forward. Among the most productive moments for some members of our Ohio delegation was the meeting in Senator Sherrod Brown’s office. The Senator’s assistant with whom we met shared our concern about the changes which were quickly evolving and the potential for negative impact on so many if careful deliberation were not applied by key decision makers. She was appreciative of our core request as psychologists: do not repeal the ACA without simultaneously enacting replacement legislation which preserves reliable coverage for mental health and substance use disorder treatment at parity with coverage for other services.
The assistant in Senator Brown’s office reminded us that all Ohio psychologists and citizens can do their part to support changes in the ACA which includes the above mentioned benefits. To accomplish this purpose, she stated it would very helpful if everyone could take the time to do the following:
- Contact your representative (Click here to find your representative.)
- Express your concern, particularly if you worried about individuals who may be negatively impacted if important benefits are cut.
- Most importantly: tell a story about someone you know who has been helped by the benefits extended by the ACA or who may be seriously harmed if these benefits are lost. The Senator’s assistant urged us to not underestimate the power of these stories.
I think we are at the crossroads of an important time in the evolution of our future healthcare system. We also live in a time when so many of us feel helpless when it comes to having an effect on forces which shape our professional lives. Right now before us is an opportunity to take a small action which could make a large impact.
Jim Broyles, PhD
OPA Director of Professional Affairs