Advocacy Corner

Amy R. Beck, PhD, RYT 200

On June 11, the American Psychological Association hosted its now annual in-person advocacy fly-in to Capitol Hill. I was invited to attend as the Federal Advocacy Coordinator for the Missouri Psychological Association (and a bonus for my role as the Division 54 Advocacy Partner with APA). While this year’s legislation was not pediatric-focused, it remains incredibly relevant to our pediatric practices. Thus, I encourage all of us as pediatric psychologists and learners to amplify these visits with brief calls and/or emails to our members of Congress.

There were three asks of Congress:

  1. Cosponsor the COMPLETE Care Act (H.R. 5819/S. 1378). This bill would increase access to mental and behavioral health services by adopting a “model-neutral” approach to assisting practitioners with the adoption of integrated care. Integrating mental and behavioral health specialists into team-based primary care systems can improve access to behavioral health treatment, especially in rural and underserved communities where primary care is the default health system.
  2. Cosponsor the Telemental Health Care Access Act (H.R. 3432/S. 3651).This bill would repeal a Medicare requirement that patients must be seen in person for continued coverage of their telemental health services. The six-month in-person service requirement is an unnecessary barrier to treatment that perpetuates biases against mental health services.
  3. Cosponsor the Increasing Mental Health Options Act(H.R. 8458/S.669).This bill would increase Medicare beneficiaries’ access to mental health care by removing outdated Medicare requirements for physician oversight and referral for services provided by psychologists. These provisions are causing unnecessary and detrimental delays for Medicare patients, especially in emergency situations. The requirement for physician sign-off in Medicare is not the norm, as the VA, TRICARE, Medicaid / CHIP and private sector insurance plans all allow psychologists to practice independently in all settings.

To advocate to your members of Congress, find their names and contact information from this link. Calls are more effective than emails, but either is more effective than silence. It will only take a few moments to make the following asks:

Legislative Ask To Senators To House Representative
COMPLETE Care Act Please cosponsor Please cosponsor
Telemental Health Care Access Act Please cosponsor Please cosponsor
Increasing Mental Health Options Act Please cosponsor Please cosponsor


Alternatively, you can keep it simple and let your know that you support increasing access to mental and behavioral health services for their constituents via these bills supported by the American Psychological Association (Services, Inc, which is the official advocacy arm of APA). 

Ultimately, please remember that true north is to use the power of your voice as a constituent and to let your elected officials know what is important to you as a pediatric mental health expert. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions or concerns.