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.
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.
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.
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.
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.