This message is of great importance to all of our members and, we believe, to the viability of neuropsychology in the State of New York. As you all know, NYSAN has been very active and successful in confronting and advocating for many of the issues facing neuropsychology is New York. We have done this with effort and hard work from our leadership and members, and by developing collaborative efforts with other state, regional and national organizations. In the past we have also relied on the dues from our membership and the generosity of other organizations to fund the costs that are associated with these advocacy efforts. Many of these funding sources, however, are no longer available to our organization and so we need to develop alternatives in order to remain effective.
Given the changing healthcare environment and other exigencies, the NYSAN board recognizes the need to advance our own legislative agenda in Albany to protect and advance the practice of neuropsychology. We have been advised that these next few years in New York’s legislative process will be as important as any have been since the development of Scope in 2003. There are many professional groups/entities positioning themselves to improve their viability and “get their message out” to key political figures. These politicians will make decisions, which will impact the delivery of psychological and neuropsychological services for the people of New York. We feel it essential that we have a voice in these discussions. NYSAN wants to position ourselves with legislators so they can make the most informed decisions when it comes to neuropsychology's role in this changing healthcare environment.
The NYSAN board has concluded that engaging a lobbyist to provide representation for us in matters of importance to our field is essential. A NYSAN lobbyist can improve overall awareness of neuropsychology in Albany, build our credibility among our state legislators, and advance legislative issues that will support and advance the practice of clinical neuropsychology. This decision, however, comes with significant cost and our membership fees certainly cannot cover these costs.
Current key issues that could be addressed by a NYSAN lobbyist are: the use of bachelor’s versus master’s level psychological assistants; separate licensure for neuropsychologists, diagnosis of concussion, the practice of applied behavior analysis, the use of health and behavior codes, licensure exemptions, and licensing of school psychologists to name a few. A lobbyist will also alert NYSAN to emerging issues that could affect NYSAN’s legislative agenda in Albany and provide strategies to avert negative consequences such as neuropsychologists being removed from return to play decisions following concussions in school athletes but school nurses being defined as integrally involved in return to play decisions and cognitive testing.
Among the groups that we have consulted with in this process were neuropsychologists from Louisiana who have made significant progress in their state, including independent licensure for neuropsychology. They clearly defined for us that the progress that they have realized was only possible because of the personal relationships that they have developed with their legislators, the activism of its members and the financial commitment that the members have made to getting their agenda accomplished. Neuropsychologists in Louisiana contributed $2500.00 each for the last 10 years to advance their agenda. They repeatedly emphasized that, “It takes money to make money. It is a matter of politics and money. If you raise the money and have a reasonable agenda then you will succeed.” This is certainly true in New York as well.
NYSAN is at a choice point wherein decisions need to be made quickly regarding our allocation of person hours and financial resources. NYSAN will need to secure finances to support the engagement of a lobbying firm to further extend and advocate for NYSAN’s interests. We are advised that we will need representation for several years, particularly given the expected legislative activities that are in play. We also understand that a one year commitment will fall short of any reasonable goal. We believe that at this time, possibly like no other time in our history, a lack of commitment or apathy toward our professional goals will be potentially devastating to our field and our future. Given the coming changes in healthcare delivery/reimbursement models, a failure to engage in the political arena will likely result in the continued and increasing restriction of our practice such that many neuropsychologists will not be able to have a viable livelihood in this specialty in the not too distant future.
Having given this significant consideration, the NYSAN board believes that a commitment from our membership amounting to the cost of one hour of clinical service per month over a several year period (like neuropsychologists in Louisiana) would allow us to pursue this course of action and more successfully and reasonably address the many challenges facing our field today and in the future. If you question or doubt your ability to commit funds at this time, please consider what your financial standing will be in a few year’s time if your scope of practice and ability to achieve appropriate reimbursement for your services are progressively restricted by people who know nothing about neuropsychology.
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