Richard Mark Kirkner
Achieving true parity for coverage of mental health and substance use disorders has been somewhat of a slog. America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) has acknowledged that parity is lagging and confusion surrounds key elements of parity laws.
Peter Boland
Elisabeth Rosenthal has a unique perspective on what ails the American health care system. She is a physician turned journalist who has some firsthand knowledge about what takes place in American hospitals and doctor’s offices, although her Wikipedia entry makes a point of describing her as a “non-practicing physician.”
Charlotte Huff
Demand for mental health services outstrips the supply of psychiatrists. Aggravating the situation: Many psychiatrists don’t take insurance. Nurse practitioners and physician assistants are beginning to fill the gap, but some professionals look askew at this team-based approach, wondering if care is being compromised.

News Wire

Most fatalities involved children who didn’t get flu shots
After five years, about half of recipients held onto cardiovascular benefits
Use of rescue medications also falls in LIBERTY study
These and other companies are taking steps to fight antimicrobial resistance
Report from National Academies reaches mixed conclusions
Thomas Morrow, MD
During my residency many years ago I rotated through a locked psychiatric ward, a place depicted in many movies and television shows but entirely new to me at the time. This was my first real glimpse at the people who were severely affected by thought disorders such as schizophrenia. The treatment options…
Zachary Hafner
Population health should be about collective societal benefits like disease prevention and better health—better behavioral health included. Substantial investment is admittedly hard to make with no line of sight on where and when the cost benefits will come. It will take a leap of faith. Are you ready to jump?
Q&A: A conversation with Patrick J. Kennedy
Interview by Peter Wehrwein
Insurers are playing “small ball” and not showing leadership, says the former congressman. And some “spin-dry” inpatient providers are doing more harm than good in combating the opioid epidemic. Meanwhile, Kennedy, who chronicled his own harrowing mental health and addiction struggles in a 2015 memoir, says he has been sober for more than six years.
CURRENT ISSUE January 2018

Behavioral Health

Leaf through this issue and you’ll find stories about how mental health parity isn’t—but might be getting there, how enabling primary care physicians to more easily prescribe buprenorphine could help save thousands of more lives a year, how patients with mental health problems often don’t get the care they need for other conditions and how an HHS demonstration project in eight states seeks to address that problem, and how a dearth of psychiatrists is fostering a team approach to the problem, but with detractors.

Finally, there’s our interview with former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy, who dives deep on all of these subjects, relying on a lifetime of commitment to improving behavioral health, as well as his personal struggles.

UPCOMING MEETINGS

New Orleans, LA
January 28, 2018 to January 30, 2018
Philadelphia, PA
February 5, 2018 to February 7, 2018
Philadelphia, PA
February 5, 2018 to February 7, 2018
Philadelphia, PA
February 5, 2018 to February 7, 2018
Philadelphia, PA
February 5, 2018 to February 7, 2018
Orlando, FL
February 8, 2018 to February 9, 2018
Philadelphia, PA
February 26, 2018 to February 28, 2018
Timothy Kelley
Opioid overdoses have killed more than 300,000 since 2000—and the death rate is rising. Buprenorphine could save thousands more lives than it does—if it weren’t for legal barriers, a fear of disruptive patients, and insurance red tape. And it can be prescribed in the primary care physician’s office.
Morality rates for inpatient hospitalizations for opioid abuse quadrupled between 2000 and 2014, according to a study in Health Affairs. The mortality rates increased from 0.43% before 2000 to 2.02% in 2014. In 2016, 15,000 Americans died from heroin overdoses and 20,000 others died from overdoses from synthetic opioids.
That’s thanks to about 57 million unplanned sick days for workers. The prevalence of diabetes in the adult population grew from 10.6% in 2008 to 11.6% in 2016. It was at 11.5% for the first nine months of 2017.