Patient talking to a therapist.

Blue Cross Doctor Elected President of Michigan Psychiatric Society

The Michigan Psychiatric Society elected Dr. Duane DiFranco, a doctor and leader at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, as its president this May.

Headshot of Dr. DiFranco

Dr. Duane DiFranco

DiFranco is the vice president of Medicare Stars and Clinical Management at Blue Cross. He will serve as the president of the Michigan Psychiatric Society until May 2021.

His service with the society with behavioral health providers across the state allows him to advocate for mental health issues that affect a “forgotten and relatively neglected segment of our population,” DiFranco said.

“We do a lot of advocacy for our constituents and for Michiganders that suffer from mental illness,” DiFranco said. “To be able to lend my voice and to be able to steer the direction of our professional society as they deal with these issues on the frontlines is a tremendous opportunity.”

DiFranco has been a member of the society since 1993 when he began his career as a resident at the University of Michigan, where he spent 10 years as a faculty member. He began working for Blue Care Network in 2007 and spearheaded the launch of the internal Opioid Task Force at the company.

The coronavirus pandemic is likely going to have a significant impact on the field of mental health, DiFranco said.

“The impact of mental illness on our society is absolutely tremendous, and is absolutely going to grow because of COVID,” DiFranco said.

For DiFranco, the experience of working at Blue Cross has been an asset in contributing to the work of the Michigan Psychiatric Society – and vice-versa.

“It’s valuable to get perspective that I get serving on the society with my fellows who are on the front lines treating mental health. It gives me an eye to what’s happening in the state in terms of mental health,” DiFranco said. “I think I bring a perspective that isn’t always present as practitioners are debating policy issues – like prior authorization and reimbursement. It’s helpful for payers and providers to have a channel of communication.”

The Michigan Psychiatric Society is a district branch of the American Psychiatric Association and represents the interests and professional needs of psychiatric physicians in Michigan while striving to ensure quality care for people with mental disorders and their families through promotion of education, research and advocacy.

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