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Annual Meeting
Join APAPAC and Advocate For Your Patients, Practice
Psychiatric News
Volume 38 Number 5 page 25-25
Anchor for JumpAnchor for Jump APA members can now contribute to the only political action committee exclusively dedicated to supporting federal candidates who will advocate for psychiatrists and their patients. The American Psychiatric Association Political Action Committee (APAPAC) provides the Association with an opportunity to support directly the election of federal candidates who will advocate for psychiatry’s interest in Congress. Your participation in APAPAC is an absolutely critical component of APA’s legislative goals.

APAPAC was created last year. Its inaugural year as an in-house political action committee was a great success. More than $156,000 was raised to support U.S. Senate and House candidates willing to stand up for psychiatry’s legislative priorities in the 108th Congress. Some 80 percent of candidates supported by APAPAC were elected to the new Congress.

APAPAC is a vital piece of our presence on the national political scene. Last year, we made unprecedented progress on behalf of psychiatrists and their patients. For example:

• President Bush, two-thirds of the entire U.S. Senate, and a majority of the House of Representatives sponsored APA-supported legislation to end insurance discrimination against psychiatric patients.

• APA-sponsored legislation was introduced in the Senate and House to end Medicare’s historic discriminatory 50 percent copayment requirement for outpatient mental illness treatment.

• The federal government released rules to ensure that Medigap insurers were finally compelled to pay the full 50 percent copayment for enrolled beneficiaries.

• A bipartisan majority in the House and Senate finished the work of doubling the U.S. research budget, including the research budget for mental health.

This is an impressive track record for any PAC, let alone APAPAC’s first year, and we can be justifiably proud. However, psychiatry continues to face a crucial time that will determine what protections are in place from abusive managed care practices for patients and the profession, any expansion of prescribing privileges to nonphysicians, the future of mental health parity, and reimbursement funding for psychiatrists.

Effective political action is not just an election-year phenomenon. It requires a constant presence on Capitol Hill and at home in your district. APAPAC Board member John Wernert III, M.D., emphasizes, "We cannot just compare ourselves with other medical specialty groups. Psychiatry has unique legislative issues, and we need more than 10 percent of the membership to contribute to the PAC. Simply put: we need the support of all APA members."

Your generous PAC contribution goes a long way. APAPAC squeezes the most out of every dollar by hosting Washington, D.C., events for members of Congress who support APA’s legislative goals, bringing together APA’s national and local leaders to meet with APA-supported candidates and having psychiatrists meet their senators and representatives back in their home states or districts to deliver APAPAC support personally.

Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), a psychiatrist, notes, "As a psychiatric physician, voicing your opinion on policies before the Congress and engaging in debate can make a significant difference in the direction of health care policy, and in particular, mental health policy."

Stop by the APA Resource Center while you are attending the 2003 annual meeting in San Francisco May 17 to 22 and help make APAPAC an integral part of APA’s campaign to educate and influence members of Congress about the needs of the psychiatric profession and patients with mental illness.

Mr. Pray is APAPAC manager. He can be contacted by phone at (703) 907-8581 or by e-mail at jpray@psych.org.

Anchor for JumpAnchor for Jump APA members can now contribute to the only political action committee exclusively dedicated to supporting federal candidates who will advocate for psychiatrists and their patients. The American Psychiatric Association Political Action Committee (APAPAC) provides the Association with an opportunity to support directly the election of federal candidates who will advocate for psychiatry’s interest in Congress. Your participation in APAPAC is an absolutely critical component of APA’s legislative goals.

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