American Psychiatric Association Assembly Meeting
February 29-March 1, 2020
John P. D. Shemo, MD, DLFAPA
PSV Assembly Representative
The American Psychiatric Association Area 5 Meeting was held in Atlanta on February 29/March 1, 2020. As is common, several of the Assembly Executive Committee members who are from other areas joined us. This gives us the opportunity to hear not only what is happening across Area 5, but around the country.
For new PSV or APA members, when the APA Assembly was founded, there were few psychiatrists in the South. With the demographic shift that has occurred since then, Area 5 has become not only geographically the largest area of the seven APA areas, but also the one with the “largest vote” in the Assembly. If Area 5 and any one of the other six areas voted in unison, they could pass any action before the Assembly.
While issues related to the coronavirus were actively discussed, the situation was not as grave at that point or, frankly, the meeting would not have occurred “in person.” The upcoming Assembly meeting that was to be held prior to the now canceled APA Scientific Meeting in Philadelphia, will be held as a virtual meeting but in a much truncated form.
I am distressed to report that Virginia remains, with a couple of contenders, the state in which the insurance entities remain most out of compliance with the mental health parity law. Hopefully, the recent judicial ruling in Massachusetts regarding insurance entity noncompliance with parity regulations will have a “ripple effect” as far south as Virginia.
More recent APA issues since the Area 5 meeting include:
- The establishment of a presidential task force on COVID-19 to help coordinate efforts.
- Cancellation of the 2020 annual meeting in Philadelphia scheduled for April
25-29. The APA will work with scheduled speakers to develop an online educational product this spring.
- Physicians must pass the National Boards to be licensed to practice and all physicians, including psychiatrists, must additionally pass Medical Specialty Boards. As the supervision requirements for APRN’s and PA’s reduce to zero, the APA does support a study to address the value of an equally demanding testing requirement for APRN’s and PA’s that is also nationally based. This would be aimed at improving the quality of care by standardizing training for APRN’s and PA’s to a level that is required for physicians. Frankly, what I would support would be that all practitioners would be required to pass the same stringent examination to provide equivalent services. It is noted in this regard that studies have demonstrated that non-medically trained applicants are exceedingly rarely capable of passing the general or specialty boards required of physicians.
- APA’s ad hoc Work Group on Continuing Care Guidelines is addressing the issue that the determination of required ongoing level of care needs to be clinically driven and not driven by insurance entities.
- There has been a lot of “relaxation” of HIPPA and other bureaucratic inputs on the provision of telemedicine services in the face of the need for “efficiency” in the COVID-19 pandemic. Since they have been, in fact been effective, it will be interesting to see how the bureaucracies defend the reimposition of these “regulations” once the “crisis” is over. At bottom line, efforts to provide telemedicine services will not generate penalties for HIPPA violations as long as it is evident that they occurred in the course of “good faith efforts” to provide care.
- The APA is assisting the Maryland District Branch’s effort to amend a law that authorizes psychiatric nurse practitioners to serve as “medical directors” of outpatient mental health centers, requiring that medical directors always be physicians.
- To end on a positive note, the latest membership report of the APA revealed 38,799 members at the end of 2019, the highest number in 18 years.
As I always restate at the end of my reports, Dr. Kaul, Dr. Choudhary, and I serve on the Assembly to represent the membership of the PSV, and, by extension, the psychiatrists in Virginia who are not members of the PSV but should be. We are always open to hearing your concerns about factors that impact your care of your patients and will try to engage the APA in finding solutions.
IS NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUR SMARTPHONE AND TABLET!
JOIN PSV TODAY!
September 25-26, 2020
Curio Collection by Hilton
APA Find a Psychiatrist
Are you accepting new patients?
Opt into APA’s “Find A Psychiatrist” database. To view the functionality or opt-in,
FYI: A link for this option has been added to the PSV website. Select the “About” button and then “Find a Psychiatrist” from the drop down.