As we begin 2018, we would like to take a moment to thank you for advocating on behalf of psychology on a range of education, public health, science and public interest issues. Through APA's Federal Action Network (FAN), you and your colleagues have been more engaged than ever, and your efforts have made a real difference. In 2017, you and your colleagues sent more than 55,000 messages to Congress! Despite many competing and constant threats to critical programs, your efforts have made a significant contribution to our country’s mental health and psychology's broad advocacy agenda.
Some highlights include:
In January 2017, the temporary federal hiring freeze put many students in health professions, including psychology doctoral students, at risk of being unable to complete their training, particularly at the Department of Veterans Affairs, but also the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Indian Health Service. In addition to APA’s advocacy with the Administration, APA advocates sent over 10,000 messages to Congress requesting an exemption for psychologists and psychology training programs. Due in part to the attention you brought to Capitol Hill, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) ultimately granted an exemption for certain health professions, including psychologists, from the hiring freeze.
In March, members of the House of Representatives received nearly 450 emails from FAN members and other psychologists urging them to prioritize mental health within federal law enforcement grant programs.
In May, the Trump Administration released its proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget that included massive cuts to domestic spending on education, health, and safety net programs. The budget, if enacted, would shrink the federal role in education, jeopardize the nation’s scientific enterprise, and reduce access to mental and behavioral health services and eliminate most workforce training. APA members sent more than 12,000 messages alerting Congress that these proposed cuts would threaten the public health programs, America’s historical leadership in scientific discoveries and education. More than 800 advocates sent 2,400 messages to Congress in support of increased funding for the Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) and Behavioral Healthcare Workforce Education and Training (BHWET) Programs for the 2018 Fiscal Year (FY), which helped save these programs from elimination. Congress rejected most of these cuts, but was only able to pass a short-term funding measure that expires on January 19th.
Federally funded home visiting programs remain a priority for psychologists because of their long-term benefits for low-income families. This year, you sent more than 825 messages to Capitol Hill telling Congress to maintain federal support for these programs.
The Coalition to Promote Research, co-led by Pat Kobor of APA’s Science Directorate, created a petition in support of peer review and good management of federal science agencies. The sizable response to this petition may be used at short notice to demonstrate support for these concepts across the scientific community should they be threatened in future legislation.
Throughout 2017, APA participated in a nationwide advocacy effort to successfully defeat several attempts in the U.S. Congress to repeal and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). A huge credit goes out to the numerous APA members who took action through APA’s Federal Action Network which resulted in well over 10,000 direct emails, phone calls and social media outreach to Members of Congress. APA advocated that any health care reform legislation to repeal and replace the ACA should: increase the number of Americans with coverage for physical and behavioral health and substance use disorder services; maintain reproductive health coverage; stabilize the insurance market; and provide additional consumer protections to our nation’s most vulnerable populations. While there is much more to do in 2018, this was a major victory in the efforts to improve health and mental health care in our nation.
Thanks to your efforts, Congress rejected the proposed elimination of key post-secondary education provisions (student loan interest deduction, tuition reduction, and lifetime learning) critical to graduate students that would have made graduate study less accessible and affordable included the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1).APA activated its grassroots network which weighed in with Members of Congress. More than 3,000 APA members sent more than 10,000 messages to Congress highlighting the value of the federal investment in graduate study and the importance of protecting it in the tax reform bill. Congress heard you. Your engagement on this very important issue is a powerful example of how constituents can successfully change the outcome of legislation.
With Congress postponing final decisions on a number of key policy issues, including overall federal funding for Fiscal Year 2018, renewing the Children’s Health Insurance Program, preserving of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and protections for young immigrants through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, your renewed commitment to advocacy will be key to our success once again in 2018. Thank you for your continued support from your APA advocacy team!