At the National Council Conference last week, Dr. Don Berwick, CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and former chief of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) stated, “The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is extending insurance to everyone.”  ACA innovations, he remarked, “will foster new forms of delivery—in particular, integrated care.

important issues in behavioral healthcareBerwick reflected on his own involvement in the current system and its failures: one of his patients, whom he had successfully treated for childhood tuberculosis, had recently died of drug addiction at 26.

He went on to decry the limitations imposed by the system as-is. “We have to get out of fee-for-service payment. I favor a single-payer system,” stated Berwick. Citing the Triple Aim, he created and CMS adopted, he believes that “healthcare systems can organize around the principles of better health, better care, and lower costs.” Some key principles include putting patients first, protecting the disadvantaged, and starting at scale. “Can we have Triple Aim care?” he asked. “The answer is yes!”

“This is a promising moment for health care leaders,” he said. “Understand that the Affordable Care Act extends health insurance to everyone,” but that the real catalyst for good healthcare, broadly accessible, is a holistic approach that addresses the socio-economic disparities in which illness is only one of the obstacles in the way of wellness.

Can we as clinical social workers adapt holistic concepts in our work so that behavioral health is an integral, early part of peoples’ healthcare treatment?

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