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Association News
Commission Gives Support To Crucial DB Initiatives
Psychiatric News
Volume 36 Number 1 page 10-27

Think of them as volunteer firefighters. Six months into their mission, members of the APA Commission on Public Policy, Litigation, and Advocacy are helping district branches and state societies throughout the country become better armed to put out legislative blazes that threaten psychiatric practice and quality patient care.

When the APA Board of Trustees approved the establishment of the commission last May, it envisioned a mechanism through which the Association would be able to target funds to support legislative activities, litigation, and education initiatives whose outcomes were likely to have a significant impact on psychiatrists’ ability to practice and patients’ ability to obtain optimal care.

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Richard Ciccone, M.D.: CoPPLA limits the size of its contributions because it wants "to support as many significant projects as possible with the funds available." 

The workload confronting commission members has left them little time to breathe, said commission chair Richard Ciccone, M.D. At the same time they had to develop a mission statement and guidelines for approving funding requests (see box on page 27), commission members were faced with evaluating nearly a dozen requests for financial assistance, almost all of which came with an "urgent" label attached.

By early December the commission, known as CoPPLA, had sent to the Board of Trustees endorsements for programs in seven states, all of which the Board approved in principle. CoPPLA makes recommendations on proposals worthy of support, but the Board makes the final determination regarding disbursement of the funds. (The transfer of funds, however, could not be made until after January 1, when APA became a new 501(c)(6) business organization. Since assets of the "old" APA—a 501(c)(3) charitable organization—cannot be transferred to the new 501 (c)(6) organization, the new organization will have to allocate the funding out of its own assets, according to APA’s legal counsel.)

All of the grants are for amounts between $30,000 and $40,000 and are going to district branches in Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Hawaii. Grants also are going to the state associations in New York and California. In all of the states except New York, the money is "to provide resources for public education regarding the expansion of nonphysician scope-of-practice authorization"—that is, for alerting people in those states to the risks to patient care that could occur if psychologists were granted statutory authority to prescribe psychoactive medications, Ciccone told Psychiatric News.

In New York, scope of practice was also the issue that prompted the request to CoPPLA, but there the legislation was targeted at expanding it for a broad range of nonphysician mental health therapists. So far the vast majority of requests for financial assistance have won the backing of CoPPLA members, Ciccone pointed out. As part of the proposal review process, the commission asks the district branch or state society to explain how much it plans to contribute from its own funds for efforts that could have serious consequences for its members. CoPPLA expects the organizations to make some contributions to the initiative, recognizing that district branches vary tremendously in the amount of financial resources available to them, Ciccone noted.

The commission is evaluating several additional calls for help in the areas of scope of practice, parity, and confidentiality, but it is premature to discuss specific states and issues, he said. The commission limits the size of its contributions because it wants "the opportunity to support as many significant projects as possible with the funds available," he explained.

Ciccone noted that the commission members were selected by the Board to provide input from a broad representation from APA’s various constituencies. Commission members are listed in the box on page 10. ▪

Anchor for JumpAnchor for Jump

Richard Ciccone, M.D.: CoPPLA limits the size of its contributions because it wants "to support as many significant projects as possible with the funds available." 

The workload confronting commission members has left them little time to breathe, said commission chair Richard Ciccone, M.D. At the same time they had to develop a mission statement and guidelines for approving funding requests (see box on page 27), commission members were faced with evaluating nearly a dozen requests for financial assistance, almost all of which came with an "urgent" label attached.

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