Jay Cutler, J.D., headed up APA's Division of Government Relations from
1977 to 2003. Photo: Marty LaVor
"APA is a small- to mediumsized association, but we had more clout in
Washington, D.C., than we ever deserved because of Jay Cutler." This
observation by APA Medical Director James H. Scully Jr., M.D., sums up the
enormous impact that Cutler had on legislative and regulatory efforts to
improve the care that psychiatric patients receive in the United States.
Cutler died of cancer on March 4 at age 74. For a quarter of a century
until his retirement from APA in 2003, Cutler headed APA's Division of
Government Relations and was a special counsel to the Association.
"Jay Cutler was not only a dedicated member of the APA staff,"
Scully said, "he was a friend to many of us, as well as an outstanding
asset to the APA membership and the Washington legislative team."
APA staff who worked most closely with Cutler had special reasons to
"Jay was an outstanding mentor and teacher. His vision and dedication
to quality care for patients continue to drive APA advocacy actions,"
commented longtime colleagues Eugene Cassel, J.D., director of APA's Division
of Advocacy, and Nicholas Meyers, now director of the Department of Government
Relations, in a joint statement.
"Jay was a passionate and skillful advocate for causes he believed
in," Meyers said at Cutler's funeral. "What set him apart was the
fact that he was the champion of the underdog—a voice for those who too
often had little say in the laws and policies that affected them."
Cutler insisted that APA's advocacy effort "be focused first and
foremost on patients, not because it benefited APA, which it did, but because
it was the right thing to do."
Among the laws and regulations in which Cutler played a crucial role were
the removal of the net $250 limit on coverage of psychiatric services under
Medicare; the 1996 federal law mandating some degree of insurance parity for
mental health care; and a law requiring that before a disabled Social Security
beneficiary is denied benefits, a psychiatrist or psychologist must review the
case. He helped secure congressional resolutions proclaiming Mental Illness
Awareness Week. He was also instrumental in laying the foundation for the
House of Representatives Working Group on Mental Illness, now known as the
House Mental Health Caucus, and in securing a doubling of the National
Institutes of Health's budget for mental illness research.
In remarks he placed in the CongressionalRecord on March
17, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) called Cutler "a true asset to Capitol
Hill and the field of mental health policy." Specter, who worked with
Cutler on several issues, noted that Cutler "worked diligently to
educate people about mental health and to alleviate the stigma attached to
Cutler came to APA after a tenure as minority counsel and staff director
for the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee, where he reported to the
late Sen. Jacob K. Javits. Among his accomplishments there was drafting and
shepherding to passage the Comprehensive Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Prevention, Treatment, and Rehabilitation Act of 1970.
He is survived by his wife, Randy, daughters Hollie and Perri Cutler, and
grandchild Mikayla Lipsetts. ▪