Principles on Integrating Behavioral Health Into Medical Homes Must Not Designate Leaders as “Physicians Only”

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Nurse practitioners have long included high-quality behavioral health in the care they provide to individuals and families nationwide. Just as the principles of the medical home have been an integral part of nurse practitioners’ practice, so has the concept of whole person orientation incorporating both physical and mental or behavioral health care. It is therefore encouraging that organized medicine has embraced integrated physical and behavioral health care in patient-centered medical homes, a position that could help improve the wellbeing of patients all throughout the United States. Although the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) has long supported such integration, we do not support the physician-centric joint principles included in the current issue of Annals of Family Medicine (The Working Party Group on Integrated Behavioral Healthcare et al., 2014), as they create provider and leadership roles that are too narrow and restrictive for the provision of health care in the 21st century. As written, they limit access to high-quality care and restrict patient choice of health care providers.

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