Legislative Action/Advocacy

MPA Psychologists shape the future of their profession through legislative action.

Find your legislator at the Minnesota State Legislature site.

A key to keeping the field of psychology healthy and growing is to ensure that our researchers, teachers, students, providers, and clients have a facilitating environment. To ensure that supports necessary to our work remain in place, a major focus of the Minnesota Psychological Association’s task is to advocate legislatively for our profession. Legislative Advocacy is one of the primary roles of MPA. In its support of psychologists and the people to whom they provide service, MPA utilizes an active legislative team that works at all levels of government to initiate necessary systems change. In its approach to advocacy, it is our aim to support legislation that affects the whole person, not just those issues specifically related to psychology.

Three-Legged Stool

Legislative advocacy has been described as a three-legged stool. One leg is having a professional lobbyist whose concern it is to raise issues with appropriate legislators. This professional can gain the ear of legislators because of ongoing trusting relationships. Bringing specific pieces of legislation is the second leg, taking affirmative action to make specific changes for psychology. Grassroots efforts, by which individual members develop working relationships with their legislators or members of Congress, is the third and most important leg of the stool, as it allows for widespread education about the concerns of psychologists.

Grassroots Advocacy

While MPA does have professional staff who spend significant time interacting with various governmental entities, MPA is a volunteer association, and seeks to actively mobilize its membership in grassroots activity in the legislative arena. We continually strive to get more students and psychologists involved in the advocacy process, as a network of relationships with elected and appointed officials is crucial for our profession. MPA’s legislative agenda is primarily focused on state issues; however, national and international issues sometimes become a concern.

Mental Health Day

As part of its grassroots strategy, each year MPA joins with other mental health groups in Mental Health Day on the Hill. Typically held in the early spring, this event provides members the opportunity to work with staff in presenting our legislative priorities to Minnesota senators and representatives. MPA members make appointments with the individuals who represent them, and are accompanied on these visits. It is an empowering experience for the participants, and an excellent way to share psychologists’ viewpoints with state legislators.

Partnerships

Working on legislation requires the development of partnerships with other advocacy organizations and professional associations. Whenever possible, it is MPA’s desire to work collaboratively with others to solve problems for mutual benefit. MPA is a member of the Mental Health Legislative Network, a collection of more than twenty organizations working together to improve services for individuals with mental illness. MPA is also represented on the Health Care Reform Review Council, the Legislative Task Force on Autism Spectrum Disorders, Health Care Access Commission Workforce Shortage workgroup, the CHMH Transformation Task Force, the Child and Adolescent Depression Task Force, and a collaborative task force with the Minnesota Psychiatric Society to study sex offender commitment laws. An MPA representative routinely attends meetings of the Board of Psychology and works collaboratively to further our common interests.

Ongoing Advocacy Issues

  • In the 2007 mental health reform initiative, psychologists, aside from critical access settings, did not receive a 22.3% increase in Medical Assistance rates that some other providers of mental health services did. Each biennium MPA introduces a bill to rectify this oversight. Given the fiscal difficulties Minnesota has faced in the last few years, the bill has not progressed as we would have liked. We have received some recognition from legislators that this is an important issue, but that the time has not been right to move forward on it.
  • MPA’s legislative team has also been pursuing reimbursement for psychologists for consultation. Currently, psychiatrists can be reimbursed for consultation to primary care providers. Because mental health expertise in diagnosis, health psychology, and treatment planning can be very useful to primary care providers as necessary additions to medications, it is important that psychologists be reimbursed for their services.
  • The Provider Tax is an issue of great concern to psychologists. It is a complicated issue that does not lend itself to simple strategies. MPA did testify against a proposal to raise the Provider Tax as a method to deal with decreased funds for health and human services. Most health professional associations are taking a “watchful waiting” approach to this issue. With the changes coming as a consequence of the Affordable Care Act, a date was set to sunset the provider tax, and efforts were made to allow for reductions in the tax if reserves build. However, changes are likely to occur in this area as the ACA is implemented.

Political Action Committee (PAC)

MPA is able to accomplish all of these legislative improvements through our Political Action Committee. You can donate to these efforts any time by writing a check to MPA Political Action Committee and mailing it to 4248 Park Glen Road, Minneapolis, MN 55416.

MPA Legislative & Advocacy Leaders

Federal Advocacy Coordinator (U.S. Federal Government)
Seymour Z. Gross, Ph.D., LP
(612) 596-0838
sy_gross@msn.com

MPA Legislative Committee Chair (Minnesota State Government)
Trisha Stark, Ph.D., LP, MPA
(952) 457-3431
trishas@trishastarkphdlp.com

MPA Lobbyist
Patrick Lobejko
651-290-7473
patrickl@ewald.com

MPA Director of Professional Affairs
Currently vacant

General Information

Minnesota House of Representatives Information 
(651) 296-2146 or (800) 657-3550

Minnesota Senate Information 

(651) 296-0504 or (888) 234-1112