Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Health and Wellness in Health Care Reform

CHADD is pursuing the promotion of health and wellness as part of our health care reform agenda.

A blogger and former CHADD chapter coordinator reacted to my June 25 blog on health care reform messages noting: “Totally left out of the debate are such factors as encouraging health and wellness. A huge chunk of our health care costs arise from avoidable conditions—obesity, lifestyle choices (smoking, for instance), inactivity, and so on.” I did leave this out of my blog entry that week; however, CHADD is actively involved with this objective. Blog comments are supposed to be very brief; thus, I limited my message and links to two coalitions.

Encouraging health and wellness is an important component of health care reform and part of both the National Health Council (NHC) and Campaign for Mental Health Reform (CMHR) advocacy. CHADD works through these coalitions. The NHC comprises roughly 44 voluntary health agencies (VHAs), including those addressing heart, cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, arthritis, asthma, and autism, as well as CHADD. We reach consensus and publicize the consensus.

Likewise, the CMHR is a coalition of 17 national mental health associations, including National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Mental Health America (MHA). We reach consensus and publicize the consensus. My June 25 blog merely highlighted the priorities of these two important coalitions. These 61 national health organizations are serious about the principles I discussed in last week’s blog.

CHADD participates in three organizations where promoting health and wellness are important advocacy elements:

1. The Whole Health Campaign is a newer coalition that advocates integration of mental health and substance abuse into public health systems promoting healthy lifestyles, preventing disability and disease, encouraging lifelong management of chronic disease, monitoring health trends, and linking people to needed health services. The Whole Health Campaign advocates five actions to promote health and wellness that includes mental health and substance abuse. Link here for their five actions and paper on health and wellness.

2. Between January and May, the federal agency Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has convened “listening” sessions with mental health and substance abuse organizations, including CHADD. The result of these sessions was the SAMHSA publication of nine principles. The first principle is: “Articulate a national health and wellness plan for all Americans, with a focus on prevention and early intervention.” Link here for a copy of the SAMHSA principles.

3. CHADD co-chairs, with the March of Dimes, the CDC National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) External Partners Group (EPG) advocacy effort. The U.S. Congress, through the Economic Stimulus Act, established a new $600 million Prevention and Wellness Fund. The EPG was instrumental in convincing the Congress to insert “disabilities” in the initial legislation. At the last moment, in back-door tradeoffs, “disability” was deleted and the Fund focuses on chronic and infectious diseases. We continue to advocate that disability be included in prevention and wellness programs. Learn more about these efforts on the CDC-NCBDD website (click on “partners”) or visit the EPG website.

Several blogs ago I summarized the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine report on prevention of mental health challenges in teens and young adults. This is a component of health and wellness.

Visit the public policy section of the CHADD website to see the comprehensive agenda we are pursuing. You can also read the health care reform objectives CHADD submitted to President Obama’s transition team. A single blog, briefly reviewing a few of the coalition efforts we advocate, is no substitute for the comprehensive agenda we work on.

There are many other aspects to health care reform, many of which CHADD is involved with. Visit our public policy website and keep the comments coming—particularly directly to your elected members of the U.S. Congress.


You can read this blog and others like it at the HealthCentral website.