Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force Holds Listening Session with Key Stakeholders

DesperateThis post by Kathryn Martin originally appeared in the HHS’s blog on June 22, 2016.

On June 10th, Secretary Burwell and Office of National Drug Control Policy Director, Michael Botticelli, hosted a listening session to engage stakeholders in a discussion about mental health and substance use disorder parity implementation. Fifteen leaders of organizations representing consumer and provider groups from the mental health and addiction fields shared their perspective and offered recommendations for how to improve awareness of and compliance with the law.

More than 170 million people have better insurance coverage for mental health and substance use disorder care thanks to new coverage and parity protections in the Affordable Care Act, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and Medicaid/CHIP.

The President established the Task Force on Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity ( to build on that progress and to focus federal agencies on realizing these improvements. (more…)

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Johnie’s Story

This post first appeared in The Odyssey Online on June 14, 2016. 

Children in foster care often remain voiceless so I decided we need to start listening.


Trigger Warning: Child and/or sexual abuse. The following story is from the point of view of a fictional five-year-old boy named Johnie. His voice represents the voice of thousands of children in foster care and thousands of children with no agency as they are victims of child abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect.

My teacher Ms. Jackson is so pretty. She wears dresses every day when she teaches us. I like learning about math and counting. I think I’m pretty good at counting. I used to help mommy count little bags filled with white dust. I asked her if I could play with it one day and she said no. I played with it anyways and started coughing so she had to punish me bad. That was a long long time ago. I don’t know what day, maybe a Tuesday. But today is a Thursday and Mr. Sun is shining so bright. I love that song in music class, “Mr. Sun. Sun. Mr. Golden Sun. Please shine down on me!”

Last night was a scary night. I had a nightmare but I think I was awake. I was on the mattress next to Mommy’s bed I sleep on and she had friends come over. I think they were having a brown bubbly drink and eating chips. I’m a bit sad because Mommy said she had no food for dinner but then she had food for the friends. One man came in and kept saying scary things to me. His name is Jones and he is really tall. I was sleeping with Peanuts. That is my stuffed elephant. I love Peanuts. He is so soft and a very good friend. He never yells at me and will always play with me. But Jones came into the bed with me and started asking me to play some weird game. I just wanted to sleep and he was scary. I said no and he hit me hard. I got a mark from it. (more…)

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The Perfect Father’s Day Gift: A Prostate Screening

Men’s Health Month: Focus on Prostate Screening

By Dr. Jon Elion, MD, FACC and Founder/President of ChartWise Medical Systems. This post first appeared in ChartWise2.0 on Jun 16, 2016 in honor of Men’s Health Month.

runners-635906_1280June is Men’s Health Month, when we focus on prevention, detection, and treatment of disease in men and boys. As a cardiologist, it is tempting for me to use this platform to talk about heart disease. Instead I have decided to push myself beyond that, connecting to my cardiology roots while shooting for some extra bonus points by mentioning coding and Clinical Documentation Improvement.

I saw a patient in the office for follow-up two weeks after an acute inferior MI caused by a right coronary artery occlusion (that would be ICD-10 code I2.11). Remember that the meaning of “initial” and “subsequent” for MIs has changed since ICD-9, where it referred to the episode of care. But under ICD-10, this office visit for the single MI within the previous 4 weeks did not get any special code modifier. As he was leaving, the patient asked me to check his PSA (the Prostate-Specific Antigen which is used to help detect and screen for prostate cancer). Apparently his family doctor normally did this, but it hadn’t been checked in a while. He called a few weeks later to tell me that his insurance company refused to pay for the PSA check, as the test is not indicated in the context of a follow up visit after a heart attack. It would have been covered if I had documented our discussion and coded for an encounter for screening for prostate cancer (Z12.5). [See how I snuck in a mention of coding and Clinical Documentation Improvement?] (more…)

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8 Notable Washington, D.C. Dads on Fatherhood 

We have been seeing many stories of violence and intolerance in the past few weeks. As we approach Father’s Day, Disruptive Women in Health Care has been taking time to focus on the unsung good men out there.  FEEL FREE TO SHARE STORIES ABOUT THE GOOD GUYS/DADS IN YOUR LIFE. We know that not all of our dads are with us anymore as we approach Father’s Day. We continue to honor and cherish their memories as well. **This article was written by Jessica McFadden and originally appeared in Mommy Nearest on June 11, 2015. 

lead image for 8 Notable Washington, D.C. Dads on Fatherhood 

Father’s Day in the Washington, D.C. area is always a great holiday—the weather is usually gorgeous (fingers crossed!), schools are out and work is paused as we honor the dads in our lives. We asked eight D.C. fathers to share with us their recommendations for celebrating their big day and their insights on parenting in the nation’s capital. These cool dads include a District Councilman, the key spokesperson for the MPAA, a rocking children’s musician, an education start-up founder, a kids’ party planner and some financial wizards with hearts of gold.

Read on for some inspiration on what to do for your own Father’s Day! (more…)

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“20 Minutes of Action”: A Father’s Response To Dan Turner’s Statement

In light of recent events that have brought issues of violence and intolerance to the fore, Disruptive Women will use the next few days leading up to Father’s Day to highlight the good guys. There are many more of them. **This article was written by Kyle Suhan and originally appeared on Christine Suhan’s blog on June 6, 2016.  


Sex is always intentional, and [my sons] are going to understand that even consensual sex needs to be cared for with the utmost delicacy.

“That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life. The fact that he now has to register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life forever alters where he can live, visit, work and how he will be able to interact with people and organizations. What I know as his father is that incarceration is not the appropriate punishment for Brock.” —Dan Turner

Steep? Mount Everest is steep. The peak of the emotional roller coaster Brock Allen Turner’s rape victim has only begun to descend is steep. Six months in jail is a joke; a speed bump, if you will. The “20 minutes of action” that Brock’s father minimizes in his above statement will haunt his victim for the rest of her life. It may have been a measly twenty minutes for him but for her, the impact of those twenty minutes will weave into every fiber of her being, every facet of her life, for its entirety.  In her letter, the rape victim states that she, “does not remember” the night Brock penetrated, groped, and left her behind a dumpster. But what she will soon find out is that her body will not let her forget. I know this because I married a victim of a college rape.

Steep will be the amount of time, energy, and financial resources that will go into undoing what Brock has done. Undoing is the wrong word here, what he did can never be undone. It can only be rewired, reworked, processed, and worked through again. When she is but a distant bad decision in your life, you will be a permanent fixture of her subconscious. (more…)

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Focusing on the Good Guys

Between the Stanford rapist, his father and judge; the awful murders in Orlando, we have all been rocked. In the midst of all the frustration and grief and absolute anger, Disruptive Women will use the next few days leading up to Father’s Day to highlight the good guys. There are many more of them.

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Silicon Valley Joins the Drug and Device Discovery Party

Sean Parker

Sean Parker


Kobe Bryant

Every year the Milken Global Conference pulls together an amazing cadre of people for discussions of a myriad of topics, from politics to energy to healthcare to technology and entertainment. There are few places where one can simultaneously sit in the green room with Vicente FoxSean Parker and Kobe Bryant, but this was the place to be if you like to be the least famous person in a room. FYI, of the four of us, I am the only one without my own Wikipedia page.

And I was in that room because I was fortunate enough to be asked to participate in a panel at the program called: The Search for Cures Leads to Silicon Valley. I was paired with a really interesting group for the panel, including Lindy Fishburne, executive director of, Breakout Labs and senior vice president of investments at the Thiel Foundation;, , Linda Avey, Co-Founder, Curious, Inc.and Co-Founder, 23andMe; Noah Craft, Co-Founder and CEO, Science 37; Lloyd Minor, Dean, Stanford University School of Medicine and Asha Nayak, Chief Medical Officer, Intel Corp. I know, no sports figures, international presidents or Facebook founders, but wow – a pretty august group where I got to stand out for my considerable lack of initials after my name. (more…)

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MusiCorps: Helping Wounded Warriors Play Music and Recover Their Lives

Ibloomn 2007 Arthur Bloom was invited to visit a soldier recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The soldier, a drummer who had lost his leg to a roadside bomb, was concerned about whether he would ever be able to play the drums again.

Bloom, a Juilliard- and Yale-trained composer and pianist, didn’t have any previous experience with wounded service members. However, during this initial visit to Walter Reed Bloom promised to do whatever it took to help the soldier play again.

Stepping back from the situation, Bloom recognized that the need was great, with Walter Reed overflowing with injured service members. He also saw that the injured had very little to do at Walter Reed outside of their medical appointments during recoveries that could last for years. Bloom quickly realized how he might assist with the growing crisis of thousands of severely wounded service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. (more…)

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#SpacesOfHealth: Aging in Place [Recap]

Can a city help improve your health outcomes? Can a hospital make you sick? The #SpacesOfHealth campaign, brought to you by the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University, seeks to answer these and similar questions in a series of live webinars around the relationship between environment and health.

call outGone are the days when the thought of aging meant slowing down, a sure retirement and eventual disability. This thinking is being rewritten by baby boomers who want to enjoy their homes, embrace their communities, maintain an active lifestyle and “age in place” — that is, remain in their home of choice for as long as possible. According to the AARP, 87 percent of adults age 65 and older want to age in place. By renovating their homes, engaging in the “village” model, and using innovative solutions, it is now possible for aging adults to safely stay in their homes longer. But more needs to be done on both the community and government levels to make this a reality for more people in all economic brackets.

To explore the issues surrounding the aging in place movement, the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University hosted a webinar as part of the #SpacesOfHealth series. Aging in place advocates and experts in the field of home care, long-term care and aging policy discussed the intersection of the nation’s aging population, and the innovations and opportunities that exist that will allow older adults to age on their terms. Below are the panelists who participated in the webinar and the key takeaways from the discussion.


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Improving Maternal Health in the U.S. and Around the World

Sophia Headshot_Sep15Since 1990, the United States is the only World Health Organization (WHO) region that has actually had an increase in maternal deaths. Although many think that maternal health problems are isolated to the developing world, challenges persist in our country. This is despite spending the most in the world on hospitalization for pregnancy and childbirth. In contrast, the countries that have been most successful in reducing maternal deaths have often achieved these results by using a midwifery model of care—an example that the U.S. may benefit from. Midwifery programs provide advanced education and training to support this model, and studies highlight the positive outcomes that result. Here, we’ll examine why maternal health may be getting worse in the U.S. and solutions that may offer better results. (more…)

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Sleep Drugs: What Every Woman Should Know

SWHR_Logo_Final_webThe post below first appeared on Law Street.

Sleepless nights; nights full of tossing and turning. It happens to all of us–but for some it’s more frequent than others. In fact, an estimated 50 to 70 million American adults suffer from sleep disorders like insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea. Many turn to prescription sleep medications for relief– but women are more likely to take sleep drugs than men. About 3.1 percent of American men and 5 percent of American women report having used a prescription sleep medication within the last 30 days.

What does this use of sleep aids mean for women? Read on to learn more about sex differences in sleep and sleep drugs. (more…)

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Getting Ready for Mother’s Day

Disruptive Women in Health Care prepares for this upcoming Mother’s Day by revisiting its successful series on Maternal Health and Reproductive Justice.

We know and appreciate that not all moms are birth mothers–sending  love and warm wishes to all moms–be they biologic or otherwise.

And acknowledging the memory of mothers no longer with us.


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Concussions: A Girls’ Health Problem

Julie-PotyrajFor many people, the connection between sports and concussions will come as no surprise. Within the past few months, concussions have had a continued presence in the media, mostly as they pertain to professional football. Intentionally or not, the NFL has been leading the charge on concussion awareness for the past several years. In 2014, documents were brought to federal court saying that a third of all retired NFL players were expected to develop a “long-term cognitive problem” at some point in their lives as a result of head injuries from football. Recently, a court finally affirmed the deal for the NFL to compensate all players who had suffered neurological damage as a result of these injuries. While this represents an important victory for former athletes, the battle to improve concussion prevention has only just begun.

Because of the popularity of professional football in the United States, the NFL often dominates the public discourse on concussions. But by framing the conversation about concussions around football, we are alienating one of the most vulnerable populations: girls. (more…)

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Nominate yourself or someone you know to attend the United State of Women Summit

We believe that today, we will change tomorrow.

That’s why the White House Council on Women and Girls will host the Summit on the United State of Women in Washington, D.C. on June 14. We will celebrate the progress we have made together throughout the Obama administration to improve the lives of women and girls here and around the world, and showcase innovative solutions to the obstacles women and girls still face.

We want to make sure that on the day of the Summit, the room is filled with the thought leaders, activists, community leaders, and citizens who are committed to bringing about gender equality.

That’s why we want you to help us find the real-life heroes who are showing their commitment to gender equity through action. (more…)

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TBT: February Man of the Month: Dan Miller

April is National Donate Life Month (NDLM) an entire month of local, regional and national activities dedicated to help encourage Americans to register as organ, eye and tissue donors and to celebrate those that have saved lives through the gift of donation. In honor of NDLM for today’s TBT post we couldn’t think of a more appropriate post than the one highlighting the selflessness of our February Man of the Month.

dan feb man of monthOn the topic of organ donation, Dan Miller had a consistent message: “Do the research.”

For Dan, a healthy, 20-year-old junior at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., this meant seeking out the evidence needed to justify the life-changing decision of whether to donate a kidney to someone he’d never met.

Dan talked to his sister, Lauren Miller, who had successfully undergone the same procedure in December 2014 and had already overcome the judgement of skeptics, challenging her decision.

Dan read the statistics about how each year nearly 5,000 people die after being left on an 100,000-plus long waiting list for a kidney transplant. He visited specialists to determine if he had the physical, emotional and mental capacity to withstand the risks of living with one kidney. (more…)

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