Co-Chairs Howard Kunin, PsyD and Rosemary McCullough, PhD
Treasurer’s Report 11/5/21
Coming into 2021 we were in a good financial position. We finished 2020 with a budget surplus of slightly over $9,000. This was due in large part to increased membership and to lower annual conference expenses related to the pandemic. So far this year we are running a solid budget surplus and we expect that to carry through to the end of the year.
If you would like to request a copy of the 2021 annual fiscal report which will be available through the website early next year, please contact Amy Safford at firstname.lastname@example.org
ROC report 11/5/21
ROC is happy to report some progress with Maine Health. Pre-authorization requirements for treatment were lifted and there was a mental health provider contracted rate increase effective mid-2021. On a concerning note, this year has brought loads of Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield issues for mental health providers. After much (unresponsive) outreach to member and provider services at Anthem, ROC generated a letter sent to Governor Mills, the Maine Insurance Commission, Local Representatives, and others as a call for action to this growing problem of provider non-reimbursement for services rendered. We have so far received confirmation back from Anne Head, Commissioner for the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation. Some progress has been made with a few claims having expedited the issue through Denise McDonough, President of Maine Anthem. This is an ongoing and mostly unresolved issue, however, and one on which the ROC will continue to work.
Ethics: Chair Farhana Shah
This past spring and summer, the Ethics Committee provided three consults to psychologists who belong to MePA. The consults were regarding informed consent, qualifications for testing and managing dual roles in a rural community.
2021 Legislative Report: Robert S. Howe, MPA, Howe, Cahill & Company
Co-Chairs: Diane Tennies, PhD and Doug Kimmel, PhD
MePA had a successful legislative session, notwithstanding the difficulties of trying to influence public policy via Zoom meetings. The state house remained closed until the very end of the six-month session.
Our most important success was passage of The Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT), an interstate compact designed to facilitate the practice of telepsychology and the temporary in-person, face-to-face practice of psychology across state boundaries. Representative Denise Tepler (D-Topsham) sponsored the bill at MePA’s request. She was an enthusiastic sponsor and also co-chairs the Committee on Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial that conducted the hearing on and reported out the bill unanimously.
Executive Director Amy Safford and five MePA members submitted testimony in support of PsyPact. We were also supported by the Nat’l Center for Interstate Compacts and, to our surprise, the U.S. Dept. of Defense. DOD supports interstate compacts because they facility health care services for service members and their families who often move across state lines. We received the unanimous support of the 13-member legislative committee, and the bill went ‘under the hammer’ with no objections in either the House and the Senate. Governor Janet Mills signed the bill into law on June 22nd.
Another significant issue MePA dealt with this year telehealth. Several bills were introduced on this topic and elements of some were combined in a single bill. The bill as enacted into law requires insurance carriers to cover teleheatlh services if they cover in-person care for the same service; however, the new law is silent on whether insurance carriers must pay the same rates for telehealth and in-person services, thus leaving to the carriers to decide rates of reimbursement.
MePA also weighed in on a range of other issues, including the following successes:
- gender identity and sexual orientation proposals supporting student athletes, minors who wish to change their name, birth certificates, correctional inmates and certain members of the military;
- a bill to establish criminal negligence penalties for storing a loaded firearm in a manner that allows a child to gain access to that firearm, if the child in fact gains access to the loaded firearm and uses it; an
- a bill to make it an Unfair Trade Practice subject to penalties for persons who represent themselves to the public as social workers, psychologists or counseling professionals without a valid license to practice.
- A number of bills were carried over to the 2022 legislative session that MePA’s cares about, including these:
- telehealth evaluations for purposes of involuntary commitment
- managed care and universal coverage for MaineCare clients
- requiring health insurance companies to spend specified levels of funding on health plan investments in primary care and behavioral health, an
- establishing a Trust for a Healthy Maine funding by tobacco settlement money to fund tobacco use prevention and control, ensure adequate resources for other disease prevention efforts, promote public health, plan and deliver public health and prevention programs and services, support accreditation of the Department of Health and Human Services, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention and support public health workforce development.
Chair Thomas Collins, EdD
There are 48 new members who joined MePA this year. Overall, out membership has grown by 15% in 2021 to 300 members.