AOR Policy Recommendations
More evidence-based action is needed to combat the opioid crisis
- Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs) are federally regulated treatment centers that use Methadone as part of their medication assisted treatment recovery program. It is the cheapest and longest-tested recovery medication and it is out of reach for many American seniors.
- Methadone is the only treatment that will work to help an individual trying to recover from a serious heroin addiction and it is both unbelievable and unacceptable that it is not covered by Medicare.
- Most in the industry believe the lack of coverage is because methadone falls into the category of Medicare Part D, as it is not over the counter and does not fit into Part B because it is not an inpatient service. Medicare coverage of medication assisted treatment for addiction fell through the crack and there is no active advocacy community to champion this change due to its low cost and generic drug status.
- Remove the Medicaid Institutions for Mental Disease (IMD) exclusions, which prevents many facilities from receiving Medicaid reimbursements and reduces their capacity to treat the most vulnerable in our society
- Broaden the pool of providers eligible to be reimbursed under physical and behavioral health plans for providing medication assisted treatment to include all providers (e.g., physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants) regardless of primary specialty, and recruit new providers
- Remove barriers to telemedicine, especially in rural and underserved areas (which also tend to have higher incidence of opioid use disorder)
- Remove the cap on the number of patients providers with specialty training can treat with buprenorphine.
- Develop innovative payment models that facilitate contracting relationships for opioid addiction treatment, like bundled rates, direct payments for care coordination and case management services, and rational approaches to coverage of appropriate drug testing
- Clarify and enforce recovery medication prescribing practices that adhere to federal and industry practice guidelines, to avoid poor quality practices that lead to diversion
- Fully enforce mental health and addiction parity across all healthcare coverage
- Expand access to opioid recovery treatment for Medicare beneficiaries: coverage for methadone, coverage in residential SUD treatment centers and primary care
- Enforce the requirement of adequate provider networks and treatment coverage for all plans purchased by the federal government
- Reward plans that comply with parity laws and those with improved treatment outcomes
- Provide seed funding for development of accreditation or certification programs that distinguish high quality treatment programs adhering to evidence-based practices
- As much as possible, divert individuals struggling with addiction into evidence based community-based treatment and support services, not jail or prison
- Increase federal funding for drug court programs that encourage medication assisted treatment
- Expand access to treatment options for incarcerated individuals
- Support a “re-entry” program for people living with addiction after incarceration
- Require that federally-supported medical, nursing and other clinician training programs incorporate curriculum on the diagnosis and treatment of addiction
- Invest resources in scaling evidence-based prevention programs and customizing for specific priority audiences such as youth, veterans, pain patients, etc.
- Develop targeted campaigns (e.g. public, medical professionals) to fight the bias against people with addiction and inform of effective treatment options
- Accelerate treatments for opioid use disorder that are nearly diversion-proof such as long-action injectables and implantables
- Fast-track non-addictive pain medication development through the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
AOR at the 2017 Rx Summit in Atlanta, GA
Advocates for Opioid Recovery attended the 2017 National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit this past spring in Atlanta, Georgia. This event brought the recovery community together to develop solutions and affect real change in the face of this national public health crisis.
AOR team members hosted a booth on the convention floor to talk with attendees about our mission and collect personal stories of those who have battled the disease of addiction, or who have stood alongside loved ones through their struggle. These are a few of their stories.
To encourage President Trump to reaffirm his commitment to ending the opioid crisis in his Joint Session speech to Congress, CURA Strategies developed the AOR social media campaign #LetsTrumpAddiction. This campaign was successful due to a combination of tactics including
Paid and organic social strategies
A Thunderclap message sent out the day of the Joint Session Address
Op-eds published in The Hill and Real Clear Health
All 3 advisors actively promoting the campaign through their social media platforms