No matter how some officials may feel about it, the Affordable Care Act has been law now for many months. This means that health care and mental health care are being integrated and reformed. It means that more people than ever will have insurance to pay for their care–whether through medicare, medicaid, or private insurance. It means that every state in the country as well as the federal government are in the midst of some of the most important planning processes in the history of health care.
If you are a person with a mental illness, an addiction disorder, or a developmental/intellectual disability, you likely are not very familiar with any of this. Yet your ideas about health care and promoting wellness are so important to this process, because your understanding of health, illness, and the path back to wellness is some of the most important input our state needs to have had in developing its current plan.
Admittedly, from the medical perspective, our state is fortunate in that for several years some very dedicated leaders have been working to improve the coordination of care for Medicaid patients. This initiative, called Community Care North Carolina (CCNC), also works to ensure that effective follow-through by patients would lead to better treatment outcomes. By developing a model data gathering and electronically based coordination system, CCNC and its associated Community Care Networks (please learn more at www.communitycarenc.org), North Carolina has reduced Medicaid expenditures while improving clinical results in people’s lives. For this, North Carolina has garnered a bit of interest by federal agencies considering the future.
However, it is important that while states are required to establish “health homes,” a health home is a concept distinct and larger in its role than a medical home.