NaviNet on September 15, 2014


Converging Paths in Search of Sound Policy and Practice of Opioid Dependence Management

More people die from drug overdoses—many of which are from prescription drugs—than in automobile accidents in Pennsylvania. This number has skyrocketed by 89% in the state since 1999…and has more than tripled in the United States since 1990. Equally alarming is the fact that Pennsylvania now ranks seventh in the nation for deaths due to overdose, up from fourteenth in 2013. According the Pennsylvania Association of County Alcohol and Drug Administrators (PACADA), substance abuse has been identified as a major cost driver in almost every area of state and county budgets.

Drug addiction therapy is cost-effective. For every dollar invested, $4-7 can be recouped in reduced crime, theft, and court costs. The Penn State EPIS Center reports a return on investment (ROI) of prevention programs of $5-25 for every $1 spent in evidence-based prevention programs. In recognition of this epidemic, the Opioid Addiction Task Force was established on April 2, 2014.

NaviNet was honored to participate in PerformCare’s Crossroads: Converging Paths in Search of Sound Policy and Practice of Opioid Dependence Management on September 12, 2014. PerformCare, part of the AmeriHealth Caritas Family of Companies, is a NCQA-accredited national behavioral health managed care organization that has been helping health plans and their customers provide comprehensive behavioral health management strategies and solutions designed to optimize clinical outcomes, maximize efficiency, and integrate services.

PerformCare’s Chief Medical Officer Cheryll Bowers-Stephens, M.D., M.B.A. warmly welcomed a capacity crowd of 100 policymakers, primary care providers, pharmacists, public health officials, behavioral healthcare providers, emergency preparedness directors, elected officials, and health plan executives to spend the day being educated about the neurobiology of opioid addiction and policy-making strategies to address addiction. The ultimate goal of the symposium was to equip policymakers to make the best decisions for their respective districts regarding opioid treatment programs.

Deborah R. Simkin, M.D., D.F.A.A.C.A.P and Thomas R. Kosten, M.D. led several interactive sessions encompassing developmental perspectives, physical health impact, and current treatment and interventions. Both speakers stressed that one thing legislators have to be taught: It may take years to conquer patient opiate dependence. There is no silver bullet, but there are many therapies (traditional and nontraditional) and technologies (notably, advanced prior authorizations) that could advance treatment.

The Honorable Jean Bennett, Ph.D. and David K. Kelley, M.D., M.P.A. kicked off the policy-oriented afternoon with the luncheon session, “Federal and State Policies and Guidelines on Opiate Dependence.” Gary Tennis, Secretary, Pennsylvania Drug and Alcohol Programs and Dennis Marion, Deputy Secretary, Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare joined moderator PerformCare’s President Michael Golinkoff, Ph.D. to talk about “The Impact of Opioid Dependence on the System of Care: State Perspective.”

Michael Baer, M.D., Regional Medical Director, AmeriHealth Caritas of Pennsylvania, and Dale Adair, M.D., Medical Director, Pennsylvania Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services immediately followed with “Current Treatment and Intervention for Opioid Addiction: The Pennsylvania Story.”

Dirk Mason, Director of Human Services, Westmoreland County and Doyle Heffley, State Representative, Pennsylvania’s 122nd District presented “Policy Implications Involving Opioid Treatment Interventions,” reminding participants of current bills that have a short window prior to the upcoming legislative vote [Pennsylvania Senate Bill No. 1180, creating the ABC-MAP Board; establishing the Achieving Better Care by Monitoring All Prescriptions Program; and providing for unlawful acts and penalties; and Pennsylvania House Bill No. 1694, an act seeking to amend Title 44 (Law and Justice) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, establishing the Pharmaceutical Accountability Monitoring System (PAMS); abrogating a regulation; and imposing penalties].

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