Press-Republican

In My Opinion

April 21, 2014

In My Opinion: Integration should be future of health care

For several years now, we have heard discussion about the effectiveness and efficiencies expected from the Affordable Care Act.

This legislation, also known as Obamacare, includes a number of initiatives designed to achieve the triple aim of better health, improved patient satisfaction and lower overall costs.

One of the key strategies to reach this lofty goal is an enhanced effort to achieve a true parity of mental and physical health care — something that was envisioned by President John F. Kennedy 50 years ago with the passage of the Community Mental Health Act.

While we have come a long way in the past 50 years and made significant advances in both our understanding and treatment of mental illness and substance-abuse disorders, we know there is more that can be done to improve the lives of the over 45 million Americans affected by mental illness each year (roughly 1 in 4 adults) and the 20-plus million Americans that report having a substance-abuse disorder.

We know this because, according to reliable studies, untreated mental-health and substance-abuse disorders lead to more deaths each year than traffic accidents, HIV/AIDS and breast cancer combined. There is a completed suicide every 15 minutes, on average, in this country.

So the question now becomes, “Where do we go from here?”

There is a growing body of evidence that points to the effectiveness of integrated medical and behavioral health care models.

This was highlighted once again in the report recently released by the American Psychiatric Association (”Integrated Primary and Mental Health Care: Reconnecting the Brain and the Body”), which estimates the potential cost savings of providing effective integrated care to be $26 billion to $48 billion annually … and this is only in general health care.

We know that the economic impact of untreated mental-health and substance-use disorders goes way beyond this. For example, the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services puts the cost of lost productivity due to substance abuse at $197 billion per year. The cost for lost productivity related to mental-health concerns has been estimated to be $63 billion per year (217 million lost work days).

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In My Opinion
  • In My Opinion: Supreme Court ruling usurps control

    The Supreme Court recently issued a ruling that will take birth control out of the hands of North Country women who need it, writes Tess Barker, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the North Country New York Inc..

    July 16, 2014

  • In My Opinion: Memorial Day created to honor veterans

    As an U.S. Air Force veteran and department officer of the American Legion, I feel I must respond to a statement made June 30 in Speakout about Memorial Day, writes Clinton County Veterans Service Agency Director Steven Bowman.

    July 14, 2014

  • In My Opinion: Adirondack Health partners to aid aging population

    For years, our region and communities across the country have relied on nursing homes to care for people who may no longer be able to live on their own or may require a customized short-term rehabilitation program following surgery or a major health event, writes Adirondack Health CEO Chandler Ralph.

    June 24, 2014

  • In My Opinion: Copyrights help people be informed

    Every day, city hall reporters at local newspapers distill hours of city council meetings into cogent stories that inform readers about how their elected officials are spending their tax dollars.

    May 21, 2014

  • In My Opinion: Study of French language crucial

    In the current budget crises, proposals to reduce or eliminate French language instruction have been recommended in a number of school districts.

    May 13, 2014

  • In My Opinion: Project benefits economy, environment

    No doubt about it, Vermonters are passionate about the Green Mountain state. That's a healthy sign of an engaged citizenry, writes Vermont Gas CEO Don Gilbert.

    May 6, 2014

  • In My Opinion: Spirit Airlines addressing complaint rate

    Articles were recently published highlighting that Spirit Airlines has the highest Department of Transportation customer complaint rate among U.S. airlines, writes Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza.

    April 22, 2014

  • In My Opinion: Integration should be future of health care

    For several years now, we have heard discussion about the effectiveness and efficiencies expected from the Affordable Care Act, writes Behavioral Health Services North CEO Craig Amoth.

    April 21, 2014

  • In My Opinion Follow Vt. lead on prescription drugs

    Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin recently called attention to a national crisis when he dedicated his entire State of the State message to address what he called Vermont's "full-blown heroin crisis," writes John Coppola of New York Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers Inc.

    March 12, 2014

  • In My Opinion: Rail companies must take action

    I write to commend emergency response officials in Essex County for taking a proactive approach to the increasing number of freight trains carrying crude oil through our communities on the Canadian Pacific line, as described in the Feb, 23 article, "Essex County developing disaster-response plans as rail traffic grows," writes Rep. Bill Owens.

    March 4, 2014