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Increasing Access To Life-Saving Treatment To Combat The Opioid Epidemic

posted by AHIP

on August 14, 2018

The opioid epidemic has touched communities across the country as a major public health issue that our nation faces today. To combat this epidemic, it’s essential for the health care industry to think outside the box about how substance use disorders are treated and how to support recovery.

One such organization that is pursuing an innovative approach is Massachusetts-based Neighborhood Health Plan (NHP). NHP recently launched a first-of-its kind initiative to address the shortage of providers available to prescribe medication-assisted treatment (MAT). MAT has been shown to be effective as part of a comprehensive, evidence-based treatment and recovery strategy for substance use disorders.

NHP now provides financial incentives to enable more prescribers to become trained and certified to prescribe buprenorphine products, such as Suboxone. As part of this program, NHP reimburses network prescribers $1,000, to help offset the cost of the required training for obtaining their buprenorphine dispensing certification. In addition, if the prescriber treats at least 10 patients, NHP provides an additional $4,000 honorarium. These incentives will be offered to the first 50 applicants. NHP is the first health insurance provider in the nation to offer these incentives, which is the latest example of their holistic approach to dealing with substance use disorders.

“To combat this epidemic, we need a customized approach that addresses the unique circumstances and needs of individuals wherever they are on the spectrum of addiction and recovery,” said Dr. Tony Dodek, NHP’s Chief Medical Officer.

In addition, NHP has no prior authorization requirements for Suboxone and the generic buprenorphine prescriptions and waives member copays for Narcan and the generic equivalent naloxone, used to revive those who have overdosed on opiates. To assist with long-term recovery, NHP is the first health insurance provider in the country to hire two specially trained and certified recovery coaches who work with at-risk patients to prevent life-threatening relapses.

To learn more about health plan strategies for tackling the opioid crisis, please read AHIP’s Safe, Transparent Opioid Prescribing (STOP) Playbook.