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.

News Wire

32 states experience high activity levels in week ending January 13
Health systems’ plan is a response to shortages and price hikes
Median PFS more than doubles in CELESTIAL trial
Prostate cancer drug earns $1 billion a year for Janssen
Risk of death drops 21% in relapsed or refractory patients
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.
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.


Atlanta, GA
January 24, 2018 to January 26, 2018
Atlanta, GA
January 24, 2018 to January 26, 2018
Atlanta, GA
January 24, 2018 to January 26, 2018
Atlanta, GA
January 24, 2018 to January 26, 2018
Orlando, FL
February 8, 2018 to February 9, 2018
Boston, MA
March 26, 2018 to March 27, 2018
Las Vegas
April 29, 2018 to May 2, 2018
Fresh Faces
Frank Diamond
The 37-year-old has a title: executive vice president of Optum. But she wears many hats, including running a division that sells affordable hearing aids that cost from free to $599 for UnitedHealthcare members. Non-plan members can get similar hearing aids for up to 70% less than they’d pay in other outlets.
Joseph Burns
The medical home model for delivering health care is getting tested for people with mental health problems. Missouri has been a pacesetter. By using a cost-based prospective payment system for health home patients, Missouri Medicaid shifted providers’ emphasis from periodic acute care-to-care management with a focus on preventing high-cost exacerbations.
Nicolle Rychlick
Because physicians and health plan members both value choice, the current weak market for Inflectra and Renflexis could be a passing phase. Attitudes could change once there is more data that show people do well after switching from Remicade to the newcomers.