Posted By Ben Miller,
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Updated: Friday, May 27, 2011
| Comments (2)
Yes, it is that time of year to look
back on what we have accomplished in 2009 and begin to consider what we
are going to do differently in 2010 that we didn't do in 2009 (for a
real treat, read how much foreign policy has changed in the past 10 years).
And we did accomplish a lot. Healthcare made it out of the House alive
and out of the Senate on life support. Partisan politics showed us again
why political ideologies trump the American public's views on what
should be done in healthcare. Let's be honest, it is ultimately about reelection, right? But something had to be done as people are dying from lack of insurance and costs are skyrocketing!
Consider two studies that show the burden of healthcare costs on our pocket books. Most recently, there is a wonderful article in NEJM, but I still prefer the 2005 Graham Center "one-pager"
that asks the question "Who will have health insurance in 2025?" The
answer, not surprisingly, is "almost no one" as the average healthcare
premiums will be more than the average household income. Let me say that
again, by 2025, the average healthcare premiums will be more than the
average household income. OK, so maybe this is why I am still excited
that Congress got healthcare to a point where we can move forward. There are still a few things to watch for, but the next steps are exciting!
We should all prepare to enact our New Year's Resolutions - let's just hope dropping the public option is not a Congressional resolution!
Deep Breath: Let's drill down into where collaborative care fits into all this. As described in apreviouspost,
I have been trying to figure out the connection between current policy
initiatives and collaborative care. With the dawn of a new year, I still
don't know where "we" stand in terms of collaborative care policy and
current health reform efforts. I have a few idea though, which when I
really think about them begin to give me a better sense of where we are
- Mental Health Parity Begins January 1, 2010:
It's here, now what? What does parity really mean? How about "parity in
reimbursement by private health insurance plans that cover mental
health and substance abuse services". This is significant as it will
modify the rate of out-of-pocket spending (traditionally higher for
mental health than for other medical conditions) and decrease the limits
of treatment scope and duration. But is this enough? Parity will reduce some barriers, but not all.
- Secretary of HHS, Kathleen Sebelius, is not afraid of using the word integrated: If you have not seen the speech Secretary Sebelius gave on December 16th to a crowd in Maryland, click here.
I see this as more significant than mental health parity that the
Secretary is talking about "integrated care". What? Who? How? I know, I
was equally as surprised that the person uttering these words was not
one of the collaborative care faithful. She even names our good friends
at Cherokee, Intermountain, and the VA as examples. Something here? Only time will tell.
- Both the House and Senate Bills still dichotomize mental health and physical health: There are examples out there of how the House and Senate bills treat mental health. See here for more detail
(PDF). Who knows where the final bill will land with what it wants to
do with mental health, but a few things we can tell Congress thinks
about mental health:
a. Mental health services should be required in benefits packages;
b. Insurers shouldn't discriminate against mental health conditions;
c. Medicaid should be expanded;
d. Education is important (increase in funds for higher ed and loan repayment programs);
e. Substance use is a problem (SBIRT not bad)
Unfortunately nothing like:
a) Services will be paid for regardless of if they are classified as mental or physical;
b) Primary care will be compensated for treating mental health (i.e.,
depression screening and treatment); mental health will be compensated
for treating physical health (i.e., health behaviors);
c) There is no such thing as mental and physical health- "It's about the health, stupid!" (if this doesn't make you laugh, read the context).
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