May 1st, 2017

Bill would allow supervision-free practice under Medicare

By Rivkela Brodsky

Federal legislation introduced in the House and Senate in February would allow psychologists to practice independent of physician supervision under Medicare. The bipartisan legislation (S.2597 or H.R. 4277) would amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act, treating psychologists as physicians providing clinical psychology services under the Medicare program, the Medicare Mental Health Access Act reads. This year is the third in a row this legislation has been introduced, said Doug Walter, JD, associate executive director for government relations for the APA Practice Organization, a legally separate advocacy arm of the American Psychological Association, which also supports this legislation. The [More]

December 16th, 2010

Bill would extend technology assistance to mental health providers

By Pamela Berard

Time is running out, but Congress is considering legislation that would amend the Public Health Service Act and the Social Security Act to extend health information technology assistance eligibility to mental health and addiction treatment providers and facilities. The Health Information Technology Extension for Behavioral Health Services Act of 2010 would add mental health and substance abuse professionals, psychiatric hospitals, substance abuse treatment facilities and community mental health centers to those eligible for electronic health record incentive payments established under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). Companion bills were introduced in the Senate (by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, [More]

July 1st, 2015

Bill would set rates for independent evaluations

By Rivkela Brodsky

Currently, children who need testing to determine special education services are left with only one option in Massachusetts – to follow the results and suggestions of evaluations performed by the school district. That works fine if parents and the student agree with the district’s results. But, under state law, parents have the right to get an independent evaluation and have the costs of those tests and services covered by the district. “If the family doesn’t agree with that evaluation, they have the right under the law for this independent evaluation, except that the law is meaningless because the amount of [More]

November 1st, 2014

Billboards, initiative promote conversations about mental health

By Susan Gonsalves

Massachusetts State Rep. Patricia Haddad (D-Somerset) notes that it is common to see electronic signs and other notices advertising the availability of flu shots at drug stores while the availability of mental health help is not similarly displayed. That’s now beginning to change. Seventy electronic billboards on Massachusetts roadways are sending a message: “Good Mental Health. It all starts with a conversation.” The billboard campaign is just one feature of a Department of Mental Health initiative started about a year ago called Community Conversations. It’s is a national movement first launched by President Obama. The purpose of the program is [More]

September 20th, 2011

Bills concern licensure for behavior analysts

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Last year, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts passed a law mandating health plans cover “medically necessary” services for the diagnosis and treatment of autism. Services covered under this law include habilitative or rehabilitative care such as evidence-based treatment programs including applied behavior analysis. Often called the “gold standard” of care for autism, behavior analysis as a field has grown exponentially in recent years with the explosion of the disorder. With more than 780 behavior analysts in the state (according to the Web site for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, or BACB, a private certification corporation), the state is taking a closer [More]

August 24th, 2012

Biofeedback used as tool in practice

By Catherine Robertson Souter

As the field of psychology moves towards integration with the medical world, more professionals are seeking ways to link psychological theory and practice with medical science. One tool that has been around for nearly a century, but only started gaining traction in the past 40 years, is biofeedback therapy. According to Inna Khazan, Ph.D., a Harvard-trained clinical psychologist and certified biofeedback specialist, biofeedback has great potential in both the medical and psychological fields. Teaching clients how to alter their physical responses to stress, she specializes in the treatment of medically related disorders, anxiety, depression and pain conditions. An instructor of [More]

July 15th, 2020

Black voices working in a predominately white field

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Within the field of psychology, there are very few Black professionals. According to the American Psychological Association, in 2015, only four percent of all psychologists were Black/African-American. Meanwhile, the general population of this country is just over 13 percent Black. How does that play out for Black psychologists, working in a field that is predominately white? What stressors are they seeing in patients and colleagues? Are there things that should be done to increase Black representation in the field? And, in these turbulent times, is there hope that social justice will prevail? Charmain Jackman, Ph.D, is a clinical psychologist in [More]

October 1st, 2011

Blue chip insurance no promise of psychiatric care

By Nan Shnitzler

Prompt follow-up is key for patients who present to emergency rooms with acute depression. But getting psychiatric outpatient appointments, even for people with premier health plans, can be cumbersome and time consuming, requiring them to navigate tricky voicemail systems and to jump through insurers’ hoops, among other barriers. Both emergency room and primary care physicians report that it’s difficult to secure outpatient mental health services for their patients. Recently, a team of clinicians at Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) in greater Boston got so frustrated they staged a “simulated patient” exercise. They posed as patients enrolled in Blue Cross Blue Shield [More]

November 1st, 2013

BMI report cards drawing mixed reviews

By Phyllis Hanlon

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than one-third of children and adolescents in the United States are considered overweight or obese, a condition that can lead to asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes and other physical illnesses. The CDC reports further that 70 percent of obese children had, at minimum, one risk factor for cardiovascular disease and 39 percent had two or more. In some states, school systems have been introducing body mass index (BMI) report cards as a means of evaluating and monitoring a child’s weight. Although well intentioned, these reports are drawing a mixture [More]

November 4th, 2019

Body Dysmorphic Disorder: Often unrecognized and difficult to treat

By Phyllis Hanlon

Sleek physiques, flawless skin, and perfectly symmetrical facial features. For some individuals, achieving physical perfection becomes an obsession. This atypical behavior may be an indication of body dysmorphic disorder. Rachel Simmons, Ph.D, defines BDD as an intense focus on one or more aspects of appearance with the belief that they are abnormal, although in most cases, these perceived flaws are minor or non-existent. Simmons is a clinical assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School. She noted that some patients spend between one and eight hours a day focused on thoughts [More]

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