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Advocacy Update: November 2023

The last few months have seen significant movement across a broad array of issues.

APA-Led Activities

APA Responds to Federal Request for Information on Social Media and Youth Mental Health

In November, APA sent a letter to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in response to a Request for Information about the safety and privacy of youth online. APA shared key research reflecting both the risks and benefits of online interaction, through social media and other online platforms, to youth. APA noted the need for additional research to pinpoint specific technology and policy strategies. Referencing APA’s Position Statement on Promoting Health and Protecting Vulnerable Populations from Social Media and Online Harm, and in partnership with other medical associations, APA recommended design features that may keep youth safe online.

Executive Branch Activities

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Final 2024 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule

On November 2, 2023, CMS released the final 2024 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule. APA responded to the draft rule in September 2023, applauding CMS’s efforts to maintain access to care by extending key pandemic-era flexibilities and advocating for revisions to advance quality care for Medicare beneficiaries. The final Physician Fee Schedule codified several key elements of APA’s advocacy for 2024, including reimbursement increases for outpatient psychiatry, maintenance of reimbursement rates for outpatient telepsychiatry equivalent to in-person care, and maintenance of virtual supervision for residents delivering telehealth. Additional wins include allowance for Medicare practitioners to report their practice address instead of home address when delivering telehealth from home, allowing audio-only delivery of periodic assessments in opioid treatment programs, and codifying an intensive outpatient program benefit. Many of these policies apply only through 2024 and will be reassessed for the 2025 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule.

Congressional Activities

APA Federal Advocacy Conference

On October 16 and 17, APA held the 2023 Federal Advocacy Conference in Washington, DC, hosting more than 150 psychiatrists from around the country for issue briefings and nearly 180 meetings with Congressional offices on Capitol Hill. On the first day of the conference, APA staff and members prepared participants with background on key legislative issues for use on the HIll. APA members also heard from APA leadership Congressional staff, and bipartisan congressional champions Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), who received APA’s Jacob K. Javits Award for Public Service. The following day, APA members advocated on integrated care, psychiatric workforce issues, health equity and maternal mortality, and raised awareness of Medicare payment issues with their Senators, Representatives, and congressional staff. The event concluded with a reception hosted by APAPAC, where members heard from Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), the ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee, and Representative Deborah Ross (D-NC), who recounted her father’s service as lead psychiatrist for the Strategic Air Command during the Vietnam era. The event took place when the House was without a speaker and House Republicans were in multiple closed-door meetings about that crisis.

APA Supports Youth Mental Health Legislation

On October 17, APA endorsed a reauthorization of the Youth Opioid Use Treatment (YOUTH) Act, which was signed into law in 2018 as part of the SUPPORT Act. Within the SUPPORT Act, the YOUTH Act renewed an existing substance use program at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and established a demonstration program that will expand access to medication to treat adolescents suffering from opioid use disorder. In addition to this endorsement, APA also endorsed H.R. 5976/S.3060, the Youth Mental Health Research Act, which would establish a Youth Mental Health Research Initiative in the National Institute of Health to encourage research to improve youth mental health.

APA Urges SUPPORT Act Reauthorization

On October 23, APA signed a letter from the Mental Health Liaison Group to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee requesting that the Committee bring forward the reauthorization of the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention That Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act (SUPPORT Act) for consideration.

APA Participates in MHPAEA Congressional Briefing

On October 24, APA participated in a congressional briefing entitled, “Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA): What Has Changed (and hasn’t) 15 Years Since Passage.” During the briefing, panelists discussed how access to coverage for mental health and substance use disorder treatment still remains out of reach for many Americans, despite 15 years since the passage of MHPAEA. The briefing focused on the work that remains to be done related to mental health parity, and how lack of parity affects treatment providers and families impacted by eating disorders.

APA Supports Maternal Mental Health In FY2024

On October 26, APA signed a letter of support to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee on the importance of maternal mental health funding in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 budget. The letter requests $11 million in funding for the Maternal Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Grant program and $7 million for the Maternal Mental Health Hotline in FY2024.

APA Policy and Practice Insight Series

APA has begun a new lunch-and-learn series, to keep interested members informed on policy changes, recent breakthroughs, and impactful insights. You can engage directly with APA staff and other subject matter experts on topics such as: telepsychiatry advancements, digital literacy and inclusion, collaborative care, the effects of new policy and legislation on your practice and patients, and more. These interactive learning opportunities are your ticket to staying at the forefront of your profession, providing you with the knowledge and tools needed for success. To view previous webinars and see what is coming up click here.

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