Legislative Updates

July 10, 2018

MPA Represents Psychologists at a Community Planning Meeting

Representatives from MPA (Bruce Bobbitt, Robin McLeod, Trisha Stark, and Matt Syzdek) met for a full day retreat as part of a community planning meeting. The meeting was hosted by the Minnesota Mental Health Legislative Network, and a Department of Human Services workgroup known as the Mental Health Services Improvement Workgroup.

MPA is a member of both groups. The retreat occurred to plan for joint legislative advocacy over the next several years, something akin to the Minnesota Mental Health Action Group, a coalition of individuals and groups that helped develop and pass significant mental health legislation in 2007.

For the retreat, attendees were provided with a compendium of past recommendations for mental health, produced by a variety of groups including the Governor’s Task Force on Mental Health (2016), the Rural Advisory Committee’s Report on Mental Health and Primary Care (2005), the Chemical and Mental Health Services Transformation Advisory Task Force (2010), the State Advisory Council Report to the Governor and Legislature (2012, 2014, 2016, 2018), and the Mental Health Acute Care Needs Report (2009). With so many sources of recommendations, the retreat group did not want to reinvent the wheel. These reports were reviewed to identify recommendations that have been completed, and those that are still of concern. It was heartening to note that progress had been made on many fronts, but there still is important work to be done.

For the retreat, attendees selected three workgroups to attend. Workgroups included 1) funding, parity, and network adequacy; 2) grants for children’s services; 3) community services for individuals with severe mental illness 4) adult mental health grants; 5) housing issues for individuals with mental illness; 6) employment and education 7) needs for intensive services; 8) mental health concerns in the criminal justice system; and, 9) workforce issues.

The group acknowledged two working groups that are continuing to work on important issues. A community effort looking at changes to the civil commitment law will continue. This group includes a broad representation of stakeholders including families, consumers, providers, advocacy groups, law enforcement, and courts. This group is making recommendations that will address barriers and challenges in the civil commitment system and in correctional settings such as jails. The intent is to ensure services for individuals who need them while being sensitive to their rights. The group put forward legislation this past session but it did not make it through the legislative process. MPA has several representatives attending this civil commitment workgroup. The second working group is for Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities (PRTFs) that provide a more intensive level of care than children’s residential services. Changes have been made in previous legislative sessions to implement PRTFs, but some of the funding and service guidelines need further specification. This group has also been challenged by communities refusing to allow these facilities in their neighborhoods, citing various concerns about the implications for the community.

The retreat touched on several issues of interest to psychology.

  • A core need is to ensure that parity guidelines are being followed in Minnesota. A recent Milliman report calls into question a number of parity issues. Discussions during the retreat included network adequacy issues for mental health as compared with physical health, lower payment rates as a parity issue, and concerns about the time it takes to receive services for mental health as opposed to physical health services.
  • The retreat reviewed the need for common uniform standards for documents, especially having a standardized procedure and documentation requited for the prior authorization process with payers.
  • One of the small groups spoke about the importance of creating payment mechanisms for culturally-based healing strategies.
  • The need to increase school-linked mental health services in which community-based organizations come into schools and provide mental health services was acknowledged  as a powerful strategy that needs to be expanded.
  • The need to expand housing with supports was identified as an ongoing issue.
  • The group was informed of recent additional opportunities from SAMHSA to expand Comprehensive Community Behavioral Health Centers.
  • Given recent events, the need for a more coordinated effort to address suicide prevention was noted. A bill had been introduced that would require teachers to have training on suicide prevention but the bill did not move forward. This bill will again be brought back next session.
  • The need to provide funding for childcare for individuals with serious mental illness was highlighted. Funding for childcare makes it possible for these individuals to attend needed treatment.
  • For criminal justice, work continues to improve mental health services in prisons and make solitary confinement more humane and include mental health supports. Increasing mental health services in jails provided by community agencies was stressed as important for managing system flow, and increasing the likelihood that individuals will follow up with this community based care following their release.
  • Workforce was a major focus of discussion at the retreat. It was noted that state-based loan forgiveness had been funded by the Provider Tax, and its impending sunset puts the loan forgiveness program in jeopardy. The need for alternative pathways to licensure for individuals of culturally diverse background was discussed. Approaches to address the general cultural competence of the workforce was discussed.

If you have questions or thoughts about any of the above topics, would like to receive a copy of the full report from the retreat when it is released, or have other suggestions, feel free to contact MPA at [email protected].

June 26, 2018

What’s Your Perspective On Licensing Of Behavior Analysts?

The national association cited in the 2018 Minnesota bill language, the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB), defines Behavior Analysis as “the scientific study of principles of learning and behavior. Two primary areas of study include: experimental analysis of behavior and applied behavior analysis.”

This board certifies behavior analysts at four levels: a Registered Behavior Technician which is a paraprofessional position requiring ongoing supervision; a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA)  which is an undergraduate level of certification; a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) which is a graduate level certification; and, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral for individuals certified with a qualifying doctorate. The proposed language for Minnesota would license individuals at the undergraduate and graduate levels based upon ongoing certification by the national association.

Programs providing training in behavior analysis are springing up across the country, many of them online. Information about programs are available here.

So what are the issues? It is useful to ask the question, what is the problem to be solved by creating a new license? The answer to that question is complicated, and is what we would like your input about.

Individuals supporting the licensure feel that requiring licensure will upgrade the level of supervision that individuals practicing and being trained in behavior analysis receive. They also feel that licensure would add additional public protections, given board oversight. By creating the license, supporters maintain that the workforce will expand such that there will be more individuals to provide the service. Some would say that the licensure may assist with third party payments. Not all payers currently cover Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapies, and licensure may help with the legitimacy of this technique.

From the other side, some psychologists feel that it is inappropriate to license a very specific technique, rather than a profession. It would be similar to requiring individuals who are certified in Dialectical Behavior Therapy to have a separate license. Some also feel that if there is to be licensure, it should happen within the Board of Psychology, since it is only within psychology’s scope of practice, not other mental health professions, and psychologists should be providing oversight. The current licensure language for behavior analysts would require psychologists practicing this technique to be dually licensed, despite the fact that behavior analysis has long been the purview of psychologists. Psychologists who are not dually licensed would be prevented from providing supervision to students. Importantly, psychologists currently providing behavioral analysis services under the psychology scope of practice would be prohibited from using terms such as “behavior analysis” to describe their work unless they are dually licensed.

Psychologists also are concerned about scope creep, such that behavior analysts may be one more group with whom they must compete to make a living. Would the current language allow individuals with the BCBA credential to be considered as a mental health professional? It is not clear. This designation as a professional could open the door for individuals to provide a broad array of services under Minnesota law. For example, the definition of assessment under the current proposed bill is “any observational recording system, instrument, device, survey, questionnaire, technique, scale, inventory, or other process that is designed or constructed for the purpose of measuring, evaluating, assessing, describing, or predicting behavior, cognitive functioning, skills, values, preferences, or other characteristics of individuals.” It is worth noting that certain services are specifically excluded in the language, “(t)he practice of behavior analysis expressly excludes psychological testing, psychotherapy, cognitive therapy, sex therapy, psychoanalysis or hypnotherapy, and counseling as treatment modalities.” The language does list as part of the scope of practice, to provide crisis intervention, case management services, further assessment, working with families, and providing clinical recommendations.

The current licensure language simply requires that individuals are certified by the BACB. This could be a workforce barrier if individuals wanting to get trained to provide this service must be both nationally certified and state licensed. The coursework required Includes the following (classroom hours):

Content can be completed in person or in online learning programs. In addition to the 270 hours of coursework, individual must pass an exam and would be required to complete 500 hours of supervised experience. Questions arise about whether individuals with this license would be able to diagnose certain conditions. Individuals licensed under the current language could practice independently without supervision.

At the same time, behavioral analysis is a service much needed in our community. While today it is often thought of as a treatment for autism, the approach is also used to serve a wide range of clients such as individuals with developmental disabilities and people with behavioral issues related to Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive impairments.

So what are your thoughts about licensure for behavior analysts? Share them with us at [email protected].

June 12, 2018

Advocacy Update

How To Be A Citizen Advocate

The idea of getting involved in the political process to have your voice heard can feel daunting, Breaking the process down can make it feel more manageable. Here are some steps:

  • Find out who represents you. This information is available here: https://www.gis.leg.mn/iMaps/districts/
  • Hover over the picture of your representative and click on the contact link
  • Once on their website, sign up to be on their email updates list
  • Explore the website to find out about your legislator’s interests and bills they have sponsored
  • Click on the town hall meetings link to find out when these meetings will be held. These meetings are a great way to hear your legislators speak, meet your neighbors, and ask questions
  • At the town hall meetings, feel free to go up to your legislator and introduce yourself. Remember that they are there to work for you and are interested in your concerns.
  • When issues come up on the Minnesota Psychological Association Tuesday Update or on a listserv, phone or email your legislator and explain your concern.
  • When the legislature is not in session, generally June through December, make an appointment to introduce yourself to your legislators. They might not be in the office much, but often will meet with you in a local coffee shop or restaurant for a chat. Some even post their home phone numbers so that you can reach them more easily when the legislature is not in session. It helps to bring a handout that briefly summarizes your main concerns. Plan to spend about 10-15 minutes with your legislator.
  • If you have ideas for legislation, talk to your legislators about your idea. If the idea falls within the work of MPA, feel free to contact the office and ask that your concern be considered for MPA’s policy agenda.
  • Volunteer for the election campaign of the individual that most closely matches your values. You can volunteer to make phone calls, literature drops at residences, door knocking to talk about the candidate, and in other ways.
  • Consider attending fund raisers for candidates that support your values. House members run for re-election every two years. Minnesota allows you to deduct political contributions made to state election candidates or parties, up to $50 per person per year. Candidates should furnish you with a Political Contribution Refund form.
  • Much of the work of implementation of laws happens in state administrative agencies. Consider volunteering for a board or commission. You can learn about these opening on the Minnesota Secretary of State website and can sign up for monthly posting of open positions. You can learn more about Board and Commission postings here https://www.sos.state.mn.us/boards-commissions/
  • If you are specifically interested in issues related to psychology or mental health services, other opportunities for engagement exist. Consider attending Minnesota Board of Psychology meetings to learn about the work of the Board. Dates for meetings can be found here https://mn.gov/boards/psychology/about/meetingdates/ The Board will be beginning a Rule Making process in the near future, and you can become involved with this.
  • Keep informed. Read the Tuesday Update from the Minnesota Psychological Association and other news feeds about issues important to you.

May 8, 2018

Advocacy Update

We are three weeks from the end of Minnesota’s legislative session. While our efforts to make changes to the Psychology Practice Act and pursue a 23.7% increase to Medical Assistance reimbursement for mental health services will likely have to wait until next year, we have seen some important movement on other issues. Ensuring Mental Health Parity is being approached from several perspectives. As part of the Minnesota Mental Health Legislative Network, of which MPA is a part, legislation is moving forward to create a task force to define how payers should demonstrate accountability for parity. Additionally, MPA has met with the US Department of Labor, which oversees parity in ERISA plans, and is in continuing discussions with Minnesota Department of Commerce about parity, especially related to network adequacy.
Click the links below to see guidelines for Parity enforcement and a sample complaint form provided by the US Department of Labor.

Parity enforcement guidelines.pdf

Sample Parity complaint letter.pdf


March 22, 2018

Psychology Leaders Complete 300 Visits to Members of Congress in One Day

Psychologists and psychology graduate students representing 50 state psychological associations made more than 300 lobbying visits to their members of Congress on March 13, 2018, advocating for psychologists and Americans’ access to mental health services. Psychologists, graduate students and executive directors for state psychological associations were in Washington, D.C., for the 2018 Practice Leadership Conference hosted by the APA Practice Organization and APA. This annual conference brings together psychology leaders from across the U.S. for four days of advocacy leadership training, culminating with visits to members of Congress.


MPA leadership was in attendance and had several Capitol Hill visits with Congressman Tom Emmer, Congressman Jason Lewis, Congressman Erik Paulsen, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Congressman Adam Smith, Congressman Keith Ellison, Congresswoman Betty McCollum, Congressman Collin Peterson, Congressman Rick Nolan, and Congressman Tim Walz.


March 16, 2018

Mental Health Day on the Hill Highlights

With roughly 60 people in attendance, we started out the day with a presentation focused on didactic and skills’ based training related to advocacy for psychology and the needs of the individuals we serve. We then went to the State Capitol to begin scheduled meetings with legislators. Thank you to those who volunteered their time and went to lobby at the Capitol!


February 2, 2018       


Photo -1 of Senator Abeler with MPA leadership, MPA lobbyist
Photo -2 of Senator Abeler receiving MPA Legislator of the Year award from MPA President Dr. Bruce Bobbitt
Photos courtesy of the Minnesota Psychological Association


Senator Jim Abeler Honored as a Psychologists’ Legislative Champion, Named 2017 Legislator of the Year

 Abeler brought groups together, facilitating understanding and compromise. 

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn—The Minnesota Psychological Association (MPA) presented Senator Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, their legislator of the year award at a luncheon on Thursday, February 1.  Sen. Abeler was instrumental in passing legislation to support the profession of psychology, ultimately improving access to psychological services for Minnesotans.

Sen. Abeler’s legislation brought needed clarification to the requirements for psychology licensure.  While working on the bill, concerns arose that the language could negatively impact the work of life coaches, resulting in many frantic calls to legislators.  Senator Abeler helped fix what could have been a contentious situation, allowing both groups to come to consensus so neither group’s scope of work was negatively impacted.

Senator Abeler has been a long-time champion of mental health and the profession of psychology in Minnesota.  He did great work in the 2017 legislative session, as he always does,” said MPA President Dr. Bruce Bobbitt.  

The legislation also included provisions to increase flexibility in the timing and content of diagnostic assessment services for individuals with mental health concerns, paving the way to greater access to care that better meets individual needs.

“It’s an honor to be recognized by the Minnesota Psychological Association,” said Sen. Abeler. “I will continue to advocate for legislation and policies that focus on mental health and the well-being of Minnesota citizens and professionals in this field.”

 Senator Abeler, first elected to the House of Representatives in 1998, is currently serving his second term in the Minnesota Senate. The mission of the Minnesota Psychological Associationis to serve the science of psychology and its applications throughout Minnesota so the interests of public welfare and psychologists are mutually enhanced.

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January 27, 2018

MPA Governing Council Discussed and Approved the Following Legislative Agenda for 2018

  1. We are participating in Mental Health Day at the Capitol on March 15, 2018. Governing Council members are strongly encouraged to attend.

  2. We are again addressing some issues with the MN Practice Act to clarify supervision requirements, ease licensure portability and to address some process issues with the Board of Psychology.

  3. We will again reintroduce our bill requesting a 23.7% increase in outpatient mental health Medical Assistance funding for mental health professionals. ln 2007, legislation passed that gave the 23.7%  increase to critical access providers, hospitals, psychiatrists, and APRNs. Last year, Rule 29 clinics received the increase. We will continue to advocate for psychologists’ inclusion in this increase.

  4. We will be supporting a Parity bill brought by NAMI-MN that offers further protections for clients through required reporting by payers.

  5. A draft of a bill to license Behavior Analysts has been making its rounds. MPA opposes the bill in its current form as it excludes psychologists from performing and supervising behavioral analysis without additional certification and licensure.

January 2, 2018

2017 Apportionment and Bylaws Amendment Election Results

Review the results of the Apportionment and Bylaws Amendment Election.

Click here to continue reading.

Click here to view archived 2017 MPA Legislative Updates


Diversity Statement

The Minnesota Psychological Association actively encourages the participation of all psychologists regardless of age, creed, race, ethnic background, gender, socio-economic status, region of residence, physical or mental status, political beliefs, religious or spiritual affiliation, and sexual or affectional orientation.Although we are an organization of individuals from diverse cultures and backgrounds, the Minnesota Psychological Association also recognizes our core unifying identities as Psychologists who practice in America. We also recognize that we may hold unintentional attitudes and beliefs that influence our perceptions of and interactions with others. Within this context of unity and self-exploration, we are committed to increasing our sensitivity to all aspects of diversity as well as our knowledge and appreciation of the unique qualities of different cultures and backgrounds.We aspire to becoming alert to aspects of diversity, previously unseen or unacknowledged in our culture. In this spirit, we are committed to collaborating with multicultural groups to combat racism and other forms of prejudice as we seek to promote diversity in our society. To this end, we are dedicated to increasing our multicultural competencies and effectiveness as educators, researchers, administrators, policy makers, and practitioners.