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Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia Is Skimping on Mental Health Care, Says Georgia Psychological Association
Date:4/7/2009

ATLANTA, April 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Late in 2007, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia (BCBSGa) announced that it was cutting its hourly therapy reimbursement rate for clinical psychologists by approximately 19%. This new rate is about the same as you pay your auto mechanic or home handyman per hour.

However, unlike your mechanic, BCBSGa wants to pay licensed psychologists about half of what they were paid 10 years ago by BCBSGa. In 1998 clinical psychologists were reimbursed by BCBSGa nearly one and a half times today's rate for the same therapy hour. Accounting for inflation, today's rate should be nearly double in 2007 dollars (US Bureau of Labor Statistics based on the Consumer Price Index). Unlike medical doctors and dentists, psychologists see only one patient per hour.

As a result, GPA is hearing from its members that more and more licensed psychologists, especially the most experienced, are finding they can no longer see patients insured with BCBSGa insurance because they cannot run a practice, much less make a living, on what BCBSGa, one of Georgia's largest insurers, is willing to reimburse psychologists

Effective treatment requires highly specialized training and experience. Clinical psychologists licensed in the state of Georgia have either a Ph.D. or a Psy.D. including a bachelor's degree, 4-6 years post-graduate work, plus 1 year supervised internship, and at least one year post-doctoral supervision by a licensed psychologist.

"Research has shown again and again that there is a connection between good physical health and good mental health," said Georgia Psychological Association past-president, Dr. Joni Prince. "And taking a pill alone is not usually the most effective way of improving mental health; psychotropic drugs work better when used in conjunction with psychotherapy," she continued.

But clinical psychologists feel pressured to
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SOURCE Georgia Psychological Association
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