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Behavioral health expert talks future of mental, primary health care

By JR Ortega
June 25, 2012 at 1:25 a.m.


A NATION WAITS

The Supreme Court is expected to hand down its ruling on the Affordable Care Act by 10 a.m. Thursday.

Standing at the podium, Dr. Ron Manderscheid predicted Monday the future of behavioral and primary health care, much like a modern-day Nostradamus.

"I predict," he'd say, stating another health care forecast backed by data to the crowd at Victoria College's Johnson Symposium.

The notable changes predicted by 2020 are an integration of behavioral and primary health care; and the U.S. will become older, almost doubling to about 72 million elderly Americans.

And, in the midst of the Supreme Court making a landmark decision on the Affordable Care Act, now is the time to take action, he said.

The reason, he said, is while the Americans spent $1 billion on health care in 1962, they spent $880 billion in 2011.

"A very huge investment is being made," said Manderscheid, executive director of the National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors, in Washington, D.C. "If we don't get the Affordable Care Act, we have to reinvent something else."

The increase in older Americans will directly impact rural areas like the Crossroads, which are already populated by middle-aged and older Americans.

Manderscheid also placed focus on how both mental and primary health is directly linked. For example, depression leads to cortisol, which can later lead to a heart attack.

David Way, associate director with Gulf Bend Center, agreed with Manderscheid, noting poor mental health can lead to health issues such as diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.

A panel of area health directors talked after the speech about health care on the national, state and local level.

What America will see in the next 10 to 20 years is an unexplored, but promising field that is very exciting when it comes to health care, Manderscheid said.

Right now, the health care act is made up of several parts, but the most controversial parts are the insurance and coverage.

Of the 2,300 pages, 2,000 pages cover these two parts.

For instance, people can be covered by their parents' insurance up to 26 years old, which is helpful, considering almost 60 percent of new college graduates are unemployed.

How the coverage is being handled is where people are on the fence.

"The key fact doesn't go away," Way said. "Health care still has to be performed, with or without the Affordable Care Act."

Already, our area has been working toward making mental and primary health care as one.

The 1115 waiver, a new piece of legislation, will include mental health. Texas has been approved for the waiver, Polzin said.

The waiver will help leverage state-appropriated funds with some federal-appropriated funds, making the services to communities stronger.

Gulf Bend is also looking at forming a "wellness community," joining mental and primary care.

These are the issues we are facing today, Way said. The issue isn't a broken health care system, it is how health care is being delivered that needs to be fixed.

"I see good things coming," Way said.

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