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Legislative Committee
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The Rhode Island Psychological Association

Legislative Committee

Peter M. Oppenheimer, Ph.D., Chair

Members

Peter Oppenheimer, Ph.D. (Chair)
Wendy Plante, Ph.D. (Federal Advocate)
John Todaro, Ph.D.
Jack Hutson, CAE, ex-officio

Mission

The Legislative Committee monitors and addresses issues relevant to public policy and professional practice through advocacy with the legislature, executive branch and the community. The Legislative Committee may initiate and support legislative initiatives that promote the mission of the association including writing and submitting legislation to the General Assembly. The Legislative Committee also monitors all legislation submitted to the General Assembly and will advocate regarding bills relevant to the association. The Legislative Committee obtains approval of the Board of Directors before submitting legislation to the General Assembly.

Recent Activity

RI Marriage Equality Bill

RIPA's Testimony for Marriage Equality

Bill relating to insurance coverage for mental illness and substance abuse 

RIPA's Testimony to bill relating to insurance coverage for mental illness and substance abuse

Bill relating to insurance coverage (Bill 0200)

RIPA's Testimony relating to insurance coverage (Bill 0200)

The Rhode Island Health Care Reform Act of 2013

RIPA's Testimony for The Rhode Island Health Care Reform Act of 2013

Confidentiality of Health Care Communications and Information

RIPA's testimony relating to Confidentiality of Health Care Communications and Information

The Legislative Committee has been active in recent years addressing many issues relevant to the professional practice of psychologists:

We have written, submitted, advocated and passed two revisions to our licensing law in the law (RIGL 5-44). These revisions clarified the training and supervision requirements, and clarified disciplinary issues adding an option for colleague assistance interventions for impaired psychologists.

In 2012 in coalition with the Rhode Island Medical Society we submitted and passed a bill that added psychologists to the professions that may participate in multidisciplinary Physician Service Corporations (RIGL 7-5.1). This change to the law is essential if psychologists are going to be leaders in healthcare reform.

In 2012 we also spent a lot of time and effort on the bills submitted by advocates for autistic children and behavioral analysts to create appropriate policy for our state and to protect the practice of psychology. While we supported the effort to mandate private insurance companies provide coverage for treatment needed by people with autistic spectrum disorders, we were very concerned about the efforts of the behavioral analyst lobby to secure insurance reimbursement for themselves at the expense of Rhode Island’s well established programs serving children with ASDs and psychologists. The original laws would have had certified applied behavior analysts preempt psychologists from the practice of behavioral analysis. Through our intervention the law will require the applied behavioral analysts have a Rhode Island license in ABA rather than certificate from a private company, that these ABAs have appropriate education and supervision requirements and that they are subject to the disciplinary oversight of the Department of Health. Psychologists are exempt from having to also have an ABA license, so that psychologists whose training and experience as a psychologist include the application of ABA can continue to provide services to this important population. Many thanks to Drs. Karyn Blane, Roland Grant and Stephen Sheinkopf for their help on this project.

We also submitted our bill that would add parity of rates to our state’s law mandating coverage for mental health and substance abuse (RIGL 27.38.2-1). That did not pass.

The Legislative Committee actively works with the associations of the other mental health professions and the medical professions to encourage cooperation and collaboration on issues of mutual concern. The united effort of our coalition has been effective addressing a number of legislative issues over the years.

The Legislative Committee also works closely with the Legal and Regulatory attorneys at the American Psychological Association Practice Organization. Their input and support are tremendously important to the successes we have achieved and our ability to address future challenges.

We continue to develop our communications and collaborations with the legislative committees of the other State Provincial and Territorial Associations of APA. We share ideas and strategies. I am actively advocating with the APAPO and CAPP for resources that will help to improve communications with other states and the APAPO.

Our Agenda for next year (2013) focuses on issues relevant to the implementation of health care reform and mental health parity. Thus far we have identified two changes to the mental health and substance abuse mandate (RIGL 27.38.2) that merit our attention.

First, we will resubmit our bill seeking to ensure that insurance companies reimburse mental health professionals on the same basis as the do medical professionals. This is particularly relevant in light of Blue Cross of Rhode Island’s change in rate schedule implemented in 2012. their new rate schedule may violate federal mental health parity: the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA). Our bill will ensure that rates are complaint with parity.

Second, we will submit a bill seeking to update the law to ensure that it is inclusive of mental health diagnoses and services in a manner also consistent with MHPAEA.

We will be engaging in a review of state laws, and monitoring and participating the work of a number of groups that are meeting regarding the implementation of healthcare reform. It is clear to me that we must be at the table to ensure that the interests of our clients and our profession are represented.

One more thing, RIPA has been effective in the legislative and policy realm due to the hard work of our committee and board members, and our Executive Director, Jack Hutson. We have done this with very limited financial resources compared to most other state associations. Your RIPA dues and modest funds we receive from the APAPO through CAPP’s Organizational Development Grants fund our advocacy efforts. The grants come from the dues APAPO members pay in the Practice Assessment. The Legislative Committee appreciates your support of these efforts which impact all of us.

Resources

American Psychological Association  (http://www.apa.org/)

American Psychological Association Practice Organization  (http://www.apapracticecentral.org/)

General Assembly  (http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/Pages/Default.aspx)

State of Rhode Island Healthcare Reform Commission  (www.healthcare.ri.gov/)

HealthRIght  (http://www.rihealthright.org/)

Professional Regulation Department of Health  (http://www.health.state.ri.us/licensing/)

For More Information

Contact Peter M. Oppenheimer, Ph.D., at pmopp@fopsychl.com