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What is TPA Doing?!?!?
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What is TPA Doing?!?!?!




Dr. Carol A. Grothues

This question has been asked of me multiple times already this year in light of the significant changes facing psychologists in Texas, and the frustration many of us are feeling.  I have tried to respond to emails and phone calls to answer this question, but decided that it would probably be best to provide a summary of all that TPA is doing – and plans to do this legislative session.
  • We successfully crafted a definition for the practice of psychology that was approved by a workgroup of diverse stakeholders, and obtained a sponsor to file it.  Representative Garnet Coleman (D-Houston), a long-time champion for mental healthcare issues in Texas, filed HB 3266, which redefines the practice of psychology and includes vital elements like “diagnosis,” our ability to consult, perform neuropsychological assessment, and provide psychological expertise and services in legal proceedings.
  • We obtained sponsors for additional legislative agenda items: prescriptive authority (HB 593) and protection from civil liability for reporting of gun violence (HB 1616).  Special thanks to Dr. Cheryl Hall and Dr. Rebecca Hamlin for seeking and developing the relationship with legislators to move them to sponsor such important legislation.
  • We successfully found a sponsor for the PSYPACT bill – an interjurisdictional compact bill that will allow unlimited telepsychology across state lines and temporary in-person psychological practice in another state (up to 30 days/year), for psychologists only.  Developed by ASPPB, this compact will go into effect when the bill passes in at least 7 states.  Specific rules governing these issues will be developed by each state board but will hopefully add continuity of care for patients who move across state lines and increase access to care, as well as make it more feasible for forensic psychologists to perform evaluations in other states.
  • The TPA Legislative Committee, a committee of 14 member volunteers, meet by conference call every Monday during the Legislative Session to review all bills relevant to mental health and psychologists.  They vote weekly to determine action of support, opposition, or seeking amendment – especially to include more psychologists in policy making situations.  There are more than 4000 bills introduced each session – and we estimate that this committee will need to carefully review 100-150 bills, and continue to monitor a significant number of these.
  • We continue to organize and plan our strategy to deal with (1) consolidation of TSBEP, (2) the loss of the oral exam and post-doctoral experience requirement, (3) LSSPs wanting to expand their practice to private schools, and (4) LPAs seeking independent practice.
  • We will organize and host three Legislative Days at the Capitol, encouraging psychologists to come to Austin to meet face-to-face with their legislator to discuss important legislative issues.  We will also recruit psychologists to testify during vital hearings and make immediate phone calls as needed through action alerts.
  • We also helped advocate for federal legislation. TPA and the APAPO team up to send Texas leaders to the Practice Leadership Conference (PLC; formerly the State Leadership Conference) each year.  We had nine representatives attend PLC this year and we learned that our issues of consolidation were affecting many other state psychology boards.
  • We participated in Hill visits to advocate for including psychologists in the Medicare definition of physician, and this year we expressed a need to maintain the “good parts” of the Affordable Care Act as the government is moving to repeal and replace this act– especially maintaining mental health parity.  There has been a significant increase in the number of individuals who can now receive therapy and substance abuse treatment since the implementation of ACA, and any change that reduces this is a move backward, not forward.
  • Other TPA committees continue to work in areas outside of Legislative efforts.  Our membership committee is busy reaching out to those members who did not renew as well as seeking new membership.  We want to find ways to increase membership because that is the ONLY way we can make a difference with these issues we face legislatively and at the policy level (i.e., reimbursement rates).  We have a Practical Practice Committee chaired by our Director of Professional Affairs, Dr. Brain Stagner, to provide members immediate information about issues that affect the daily practice of psychology.  We also have a Convention Planning committee, chaired by Dr. Sydney Kroll, who are working on soliciting strong program submissions for convention and inviting speakers we want to hear from that would improve our professional development.

TPA is busiest during the Legislative Session, but works year-round, every year, to accomplish these tasks.  I completely understand why many psychologists feel frustrated with the changes we are being forced to deal with this year – I share your frustration.  TPA is the only organization in this state that is working to deal with these issues.  However, TPA membership reflects only ONE-FIFTH of the licensed psychologists in Texas.  Yes, that means that you are paying dues and giving time to help maintain the profession for the other 80% who do not think it is worthwhile to support their state association.  This rate is appalling to me and we have struggled for years trying to figure out how to help psychologists understand the importance of supporting their guild organization – and how clearly that works for physicians, chiropractors, and dentists.

We have two primary sources of revenue for TPA – membership and convention.  If we want to increase our power, we have to increase our resources and this means revenue. We do not want to continue increasing dues costs; we want to increase the number of dues providers. The Platinum Advocate Membership has been an enormous benefit for TPA and platinum advocates believe that it is personally beneficial as well. We are TPA. While we have outstanding staff managing administrative issues, they account for only four individuals working for TPA. he rest of TPA are all volunteers; members who believe in our profession, maintaining standards of care, and working to ensure access of quality mental health care to Texans. YOU can help be the change you want to see in TPA. TPA is you.
Thank you, members, for your support.  We could do nothing without you.
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