Council Fellows

April 19, 2024

Spotlight on Osei Mevs: Vice President of Government Relations, Acadia Healthcare

What inspired you to enter healthcare? Tell us about your career journey.
During my teenage years, volunteering at Harlem Hospital in New York City sparked my desire to enter healthcare. I was deeply inspired by the hospital’s role as a community resource for education and care, witnessing firsthand the range of human experiences, from joyous moments like healings and births to the profound sorrow of loss. This early exposure solidified my ambition to become a doctor, reinforcing the belief that I had a role to play within the healthcare team.

My subsequent work with Congressman Charles Rangel and Congresswoman Nita Lowey was transformative, igniting my passion for government, legislation, and the intricate workings of healthcare policy. The expertise and dedication of the office staff deeply impressed me, encouraging me to pursue a master’s degree that further confirmed my commitment to patient care and the support of healthcare providers.

My professional journey took a significant turn during my administration role at Washington Hospital Center, part of MedStar Health, where I engaged with health in the most practical sense and contributed to the groundbreaking EROne project. My experiences in Congresswoman Lowey’s office proved invaluable, allowing me to add unique insights as a junior team member.

Later, at MedStar Health’s Government Relations, I developed a robust foundation in navigating federal, state, and local healthcare issues. A pivotal moment came with an offer from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, entrusting me with the leadership of their Government Relations operations. This role introduced me to the Nashville Healthcare Council. It allowed me to forge meaningful connections within the local healthcare community, which allowed me to participate in the inaugural Fellows Class of 2013.

After Meharry, I joined LifePoint Health, where I served in multiple leadership positions, including Chief of Staff to the CEO and Director of Government Relations. This marked my first time managing government relations across numerous states, offering a complex and enriching challenge. My career progression led me to the American Hospital Association as a Regional Executive, where I supported hospitals through the Covid pandemic and advanced legislative initiatives.

At Acadia Healthcare, I lead federal, state, and local government relations efforts, focusing on providing the behavioral health and substance use disorder community with essential resources. This role enables me to contribute to removing the stigmas surrounding these issues, continuing my journey in healthcare advocacy and policy.

What are you currently focused on?
In my capacity at Acadia Healthcare, I have quickly recognized that the healthcare crisis in the United States is acutely severe in behavioral health. This crisis is the result of longstanding neglect by Washington and exacerbated by the post-pandemic environment, leading to a widespread mental health emergency. Both federal and state governments have historically underfunded behavioral health services. While general hospitals have received substantial funding to upgrade their electronic health records, behavioral health facilities were notably excluded from these programs, receiving no financial support.

For decades, legislative inaction has left the behavioral health legal framework, established in the 1960s, outdated and insufficient. This includes arbitrary limitations such as a 190-day coverage cap for Medicaid beneficiaries seeking mental illness care. My current efforts are dedicated to modernizing the technological infrastructure within behavioral healthcare, eliminating outdated legal and policy barriers that uniquely restrict access to behavioral health services, and eradicating the longstanding stigmas that overshadow both those in need of lifesaving care and the commendable providers who offer such care.

What challenge do you most want to solve in healthcare?
Throughout my career, my driving force has been a profound commitment to overcoming healthcare barriers and reducing disparities. This commitment was sparked during my tenure at Harlem Hospital, where I was confronted with the glaring disparities in health outcomes influenced by ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and geographic location. Advocating for health equity has consistently been a central theme in my professional endeavors, from my focus on rural healthcare at Meharry to my current dedication to addressing barriers in behavioral healthcare. My professional mission is centered on eliminating obstacles to care, enhancing healthcare outcomes, and fostering equity in these outcomes.

How did the Council Fellows program influence your life or career?
The Council Fellows program profoundly influenced my life and career, starting with its professional impact. The program broadened my horizons beyond the confines of my daily professional environment, offering a comprehensive view of the healthcare sector that included providers, payors, managers, and technology. It facilitated deep discussions on healthcare topics within my expertise, allowing me to embrace my natural inclination for continual learning. Additionally, taking a step back from government relations enabled me to expand my healthcare knowledge and gain the confidence to engage in conversations about the industry from various perspectives. This newfound confidence encouraged me to consider and pursue other roles within healthcare, bringing innovative strategies and concepts to the forefront for discussion. Being a part of the program’s inaugural class reinforced my identity as a leader in healthcare.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Know what you don’t know and question and research what you do know.

What are the most critical changes the industry needs to make to face the future effectively?
As someone involved in government relations, I see the power of collaboration between private companies and government agencies as a crucial driver for healthcare transformation. Imagine if governments took the helm, not just in policy but in nurturing the growth and development of healthcare workers. These efforts could cover everything, creating a healthcare workforce ready to address every facet of individual well-being. The magic really starts to happen when private industry joins forces with the government, particularly in preventive care—making it easier for everyone to access the kind of services that keep us all healthier in the long run.

Then there’s the digital leap forward. It’s about ensuring that as healthcare embraces technology, it’s done so in a way that benefits everyone everywhere. And, of course, the role of government in shaping policies cannot be understated. It’s about creating an environment where innovation flourishes, the healthcare workforce feels supported, and access to care isn’t just about physical locations but also digital reach.

Through these shared efforts, we can guide healthcare toward a future that’s not just about surviving the next big challenge but thriving—a future where healthcare is more effective, sustainable, and equitable for all. This vision requires both private and public partners.

How have you built confidence and/or resiliency over the course of your career?
Another piece of advice I received emphasized training your brain to be stronger than your emotions. I can continuously improve through research, learning, and practice. It’s essential to recognize that life’s journey is not linear, especially one’s own. Therefore, we must learn from challenging times—there isn’t much to learn in perfect conditions. My professional resilience and confidence are built on extensive experience in healthcare and government relations, spanning over two decades. This has involved turning challenging situations into progress for patients, their families, and their care providers.

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