Wednesday, February 23, 2011

HEALTH CARE REFORM- What’s it all about?

You’ll be hearing more and more about this in the coming months.  Last week the Governor filed a Health Care bill that focuses on reforming the way health providers are paid and the structure under which they are paid. The aim of the bill is to reduce health care costs, while improving care for patients.  There is a lot of talk about Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), Medical Homes and Global Payments. And there is a lot of concern about what will happen to the way health and mental health services are provided.  Social Workers in particular have raised concerns about their roles in the health care delivery systems.  Private practitioners wonder if social work and mental health services will be included, if private practitioners will be able to maintain their practices, if they want to be part of the ACOs or even how to explore  the pros and cons of that possibility.

At this point, there are more questions about the new system than answers. But you can be sure that social workers’ interests will be well represented in all the discussions and planning.  In fact, NASW has been meeting with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, along with other Mental Health professionals, over the last several months, to make sure that mental health is an integral part of the reform. And indeed, the Governor’s proposal clearly states that mental health shall be an integral part of the new system.  I was at a meeting last week with Secretary Bigby where she told NASW and our mental health colleagues that planning for the transformation of the system will include the convening of a Behavioral Health Task Force that will recommend and set guidelines for the inclusion of behavioral health in any new delivery structure.

As the transformation proceeds, be assured that the social work voice, values and place will be well represented in any discussions and planning.  And please do let me know your thoughts about the evolving process.  We are going to need your best thinking and advocacy  input.  I am so grateful to our staff and our members for their thoughtful input.

Carol J. Trust

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