Health Policy

  • Tim Condon

    Unlike many other areas of healthcare, substance abuse treatment evolved more from a social rather than a medical model. As a consequence, behavioral health and, in particular, addiction treatments have not been well integrated into the Nation's healthcare settings. In fact, patients with addictive disorders have often faced enormous stigma and discrimination, not only in our society at large, but also in traditional healthcare settings. However, research has shown that addiction is actually a chronic, relapsing condition that needs to be treated with a continuum of care like other chronic diseases. With the advent in 2008 of national parity legislation requiring parity for mental and substance abuse treatments in insurance plans and the with the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), behavioral health is moving towards full integration and implementation in an evolving healthcare landscape. These efforts present great challenges as well as enormous opportunities to improve the public health and ameliorate the cost and consequences of substance abuse and addiction in our society. Understanding the need and process for integration and training a diverse workforce is critical to achieve these goals. CASAA offers expertise related to the integration of substance use disorder treatment into primary care and the impact of healthcare reform on behavioral health issues. We also offer expertise from the national, state and local levels about models of integration and implementation for substance use disorder treatment as ACA is implemented. In addition, CASAA has expertise on issues related to the intersection of substance use disorder and criminal justice populations as well as how ACA will impact these populations.