Taylor Walsh: Meeting with Jeff Levy, Chair of the US Prevention Advisory, on Integrative Health

Summary: How “integrative health care” and “integrative health” are understood by the U.S. government is partly in the hands of Jeff Levy. So is understanding of these terms relative to application for Community Transformation Grants. Levy, executive director of the Trust for America’s Health, chairs the Advisory Group to the National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council. The Group has a subcommittee working on definitions on integrative health. This group is supporting development of the National Prevention and Public Health Plan to be released by June 30, 2011. Integrator writer Taylor Walsh met with Levy and asked him about integrative health care. The next Advisory Group meeting, available via WebEx software, is scheduled for May 24, 2011.


Taylor Walsh

Integrator writer Taylor Walsh met recently with Jeff Levy, chair of the Advisory Group to the National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council. Levy is executive
director of the
Trust for America’s Health: Preventing Epidemics, Protecting People (TFAH). The Council was established via the Obama overhaul and is charged with embracing integrative healthcare approaches. (See Section 4001 here.) The advisory group includes two individuals directly connected to the integrative practice world: Sharon
Van Horn, MD, MPH

Charlotte Kerr, RSM, LAc, MPH.

Walsh, based in the Beltway, is a consultant, entrepreneur and writer on digital media and integrative health

His website is
Getting to Integrative Health & Wellness. Walsh is tracking the developments toward a National Prevention (and Health Promotion Strategy closely, with a particular eye on the meaning of “integrative healthcare.” His most recent piece reported on the first meeting of the Advisory Group. (See Brief Report: Integrative practice in the founding meeting of the National Prevention Advisory Group.) 



Report on a Meeting with Jeff Levy, chair of the National Advisory Group to the

National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council

–  Taylor Walsh
Washington, D.C.
Getting to Integrative Health & Wellness


Jeff Levy: Advisory Group chair

Jeff Levi, executive
director of the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) occupies a unique
position on the national prevention landscape. In addition to managing
TFAH’s prevention-oriented programs, he is also the chair of the recently
established Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and
Public Health to the National Prevention Council. In a short meeting (on May 3, 2011), we talked about the place of integrative practice at TFAH and as part of
the forthcoming National Prevention Strategy that is being prepared by the
Prevention Council and which is now due in late June. 

The Prevention Advisory
Group consists of very experienced professionals from public health and
prevention and health promotion communities.  It includes at least two
practitioners of integrative practice,
Sr. Charlotte Kerr, RSM, LAc, MPH of the Tai Sofia
Institute and Sharon Van Horn,
Van Horn, MD, MPH,
a pediatrician in private practice in North

 “In terms of ‘integrative
practice’ in prevention,
Levi noted the importance of distinguishing between

Integrative Medicine and Integrative Health.”

In terms of “integrative
practice” in prevention, Levi noted the importance of distinguishing between
Integrative Medicine and Integrative Health.  For TFAH’s purposes, and for
the Advisory Group, the focus of prevention “interventions” are those outside
of the biomedical realm.  So: mind-body techniques for stress management
or nutrition programs are a focus, rather than a therapy to address a condition
like a sinus infection.  

Because the terminology
has come to be so blurred through interchangeable use (lets not forget CAM, or
CAIM), understanding this distinction, Levi said, will be an important factor
for the Advisory Group as it develops guidance for the 17 federal agencies that
comprise the Prevention Council.  

     “Of particular interest for
integrative practitioners are

CommunityTransformation Grants.”

NCCAM’s recent reporting
that 50% of public CAM usage is for general well being helps make the
distinction, although there is little data available that describes exactly
which approaches are used for general wellness and prevention.  This kind
of detail will become more in demand as prevention and wellness programs become
prevalent in workplace programs, in retail fitness and spa settings, and
perhaps in schools.

In terms of funding and
establishment of prevention programs for 2011, the National Prevention Fund,
which distributed some $500 million in 2010, will soon begin accepting grant
requests.  Of particular interest for local integrative practitioners are
the Community Transformation Grants that are designed to give local communities
the latitude to define the nature and objectives for their own prevention

CommentThanks Taylor. Little here suggests that Levy understands that clinical “integrative healthcare” is necessarily prevention and health promotion-focused. This is so even when integrative care is for a frank medical condition. The concept that needs to be implanted in the strategy is that integrative clinical practices “treat disease by restoring health.” (I take this phrase from the naturopathic doctors.) Unless something surprising is transpiring in the Advisory Group’s integrative healthcare working group, there appears but small chance that the June 2011 plan will appropriately capture this paradigm shift in clinical practice.

This is a shame, given the implantation of integrative language in Section 4001 of the Obama overhaul law. The integrative healthcare community does not appear to have yet made its case well. This paints the “community” with the granfalloon brush. Don’t “real communities” show up when their name is called? I hope more is going on of which I am yet unaware.

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Written by John Weeks

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