ACATA honoree reflects on the economy, health reform | Behavioral Healthcare Executive Skip to content Skip to navigation

ACATA honoree reflects on the economy, health reform

June 16, 2009
by Brian Albright
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Edward Diehl is optimistic about the Kennedy plan

The American College of Addiction Treatment Administrators presented the Administrator of the Year Award to Edward Diehl, president and CEO of Seabrook House in Seabrook, New Jersey. Diehl received the award during the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers' (NAATP) leadership conference in May.

The annual award recognizes administrators who have made outstanding contributions in the field of addiction treatment administration and management.

"I was completely surprised and quite moved by it," Diehl says. "It's a nice thing to have people think well of me."

Diehl, who just finished his term as NAATP chair, has worked in the chemical dependency field for more than 25 years. During that time, he has helped transform Seabrook House (founded by Diehl's father) into the largest nonprofit alcoholism and addiction treatment center in Southern New Jersey, and has been an innovator both in Seabrook's approach to treatment and patient financing.

Seabrook's mix of insured and self-pay clients is one reason Diehl believes the organization has been able to weather the economic crisis.

"Our census is off a bit, maybe 5%, but we're in a lot better position than many of our colleagues," Diehl explains. "I think that's largely due to the fact that we're fairly diversified, and work very aggressively with patients and their families to make use of health insurance wherever we can."

Still, he says that many self-pay clients have struggled because of the tightening credit markets (which have cut short lines of credit and home equity loans).

Diehl has seen some improvement in the way that insurance companies view lengthy rehabilitation stays, with more plans willing to pay for residential stabilization periods instead of just covering multiple, brief detoxification episodes. He also thinks that the current healthcare reform discussions in Washington hold some promise for addiction treatment.

"We are somewhat optimistic about the Kennedy plan, which does include language about both behavioral health and addiction specifically," Diehl says. "Our field has long stood against any presumption that simply folding addiction into the larger rubric of behavioral health will be adequate in terms of how care is included.”

Brian Albright is a freelance writer. For more on Diehl, read Behavioral Healthcare’s 2007 cover story on him. Photo of Edward Diehl.