Study tracks state efforts to combat the opioid epidemic

Residency Program Insider, December 21, 2018

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The American Medical Association, Pennsylvania Medical Society, and Manatt Health released the first set of results in a series of studies examining state responses to opioid abuse; these particular results focused on the efforts made in Pennsylvania. The results reveal that access to evidence-based treatment for substance abuse is increasing within the state. This is likely due, in part, to a recent agreement between the governor’s administration and several insurers in that state. This agreement erased all requirements for prior authorization for the use of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for those suffering from substance use disorders.

Additionally, Pennsylvania has revised polices to increase naloxone access, which has reportedly prevented thousands of deaths by overdose in the past two years. The state has also worked to expand access to non-opioid alternatives for Medicaid patients; this expansion provides coverage for Medicaid patients seeking alternate, non-opioid therapies for chronic pain, such as physical therapy or occupational therapy. Pennsylvania has also established 45 Centers of Excellence in order to make MAT and mental health services more accessible to all.

In terms of the future, the results of the analysis suggest that greater collaboration between emergency departments and law enforcement could improve patient access to evidence-based treatment, such as MAT. Furthermore, increasing insurance coverage of non-opioid pain care and prescribing naloxone to patients at risk of overdose could also assist in reversing the epidemic.

Source: American Medical Association

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