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Government News
Psychiatrists Make Sure Capitol Hill Gets Message
Psychiatric News
Volume 36 Number 12 page 12-12

Nearly 2,000 APA members recently sent signed letters about key issues in psychiatry to their U.S. senators and representatives. These members took advantage of a service available at the Division of Government Relations (DGR) booth at APA’s 2001 annual meeting in New Orleans, according to DGR Director Jay B. Cutler, J.D.

"We’re delighted that so many of our members took time to contact their federal legislators on parity of health insurance coverage, privacy of medical records, and other issues of key concern to psychiatry," Cutler said. "Direct grass-roots advocacy is the lynchpin of effective lobbying, and we are grateful for our members’ support."

In addition, Cutler noted, during the annual meeting, APA responded on short notice to help the Louisiana Psychiatric Association defeat a bill on psychologist prescribing pending in a key Louisiana state legislative committee. To help the Louisiana district branch address the psychologist-prescribing bill, APA set up a phone and fax bank at the DGR booth, enabling Louisiana psychiatrists to contact their Louisiana legislators to oppose the bill, which was defeated on a 4-3 vote on May 9.

"This is just one more example of how APA supports its members and how grass-roots lobbying by members at the district branch level is an absolute ‘must,’ " Cutler said.

In addition to the Write to Congress program through which APA members could share their views with their senators and representatives, the DGR booth offered APA members issue briefs, newsletters, and updates on dozens of major federal and state legislative and regulatory issues. It also provided an opportunity for psychiatrists to meet with DGR’s federal and state lobbyists and have a dialogue on advocacy issues of interest to patients and the profession.

APA members who sent letters to Congress were enrolled in a drawing for a free Palm Pilot IIIxe digital assistant given away by the DGR staff. William Herz, M.D., a psychiatrist and APA member from Bend, Ore., was the lucky winner.

APA members wishing to write their senators and representatives can easily do so from APA’s Web-based Write to Congress program by going to www.psych.org and selecting "Public Policy Advocacy" from the pull-down menu, and then "Write Your Members of Congress."

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