AG Task Force Report on Opioids Important Step to Combat Crisis

This week, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine released a report from the Insurer Task Force on Opioid Reduction. Joined by many of Ohio’s leading insurance companies, DeWine outlined the goals to fight the epidemic, and ways that insurance company reforms can affect the impact of the opiate crisis here in Ohio.

Also this week, The Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities (OACBHA) held their annual the work being done around the state to combat the opiate epidemic. Together, these two separate events highlight the importance of all sectors working together to understand their individual roles to counter the opiate epidemic through prevention, intervention and treatment. This unified message will speak volumes as individuals throughout the state come together to play their part.

The leading cause of death for individuals below the age of 50 is now opioid overdose. Relatedly, American average life expectancy has declined for the second year in a row.

The leading cause of death for individuals below the age of 50 is now opioid overdose. Relatedly, American average life expectancy has declined for the second year in a row. The impacts of the crisis are felt in almost every sector of the economy, in almost every family and throughout every community.

Our @BrieLusheck highlights recommendations to fight #opiates in AG insurer task force report read the recommendations here Click To Tweet

The Attorney General’s report set forth goals and recommendations organized into three different categories: prevention, intervention and treatment. The 15 recommendations focused on the role insurers should play in the suppressing the opioid crisis and include:

  1. Insurers should cover and encourage, where appropriate, the use of both non-opioid pain medications and non-pharmacological treatments for pain.
  2. Insurers should identify and develop targeted education efforts for clinicians who prescribe high volumes of opioids compared with peers in their clinical specialty.
  3. Insurers should ensure that providers in their networks are aware of and follow applicable opioid prescribing guidelines, which should be more uniform to reduce the amount of opioids prescribed.
  4. Insurers should develop targeted prevention efforts aimed at reducing the number of opioid prescriptions written for adolescents and young adults who are “opioid-naive.”
  5. Insurers should develop targeted “first-fill” education programs.
  6. Insurers should work together to develop communication strategies and use easy-to-understand language to educate the public about the risks of opioids.
  7. Insurers should educate prescribers about tapering guidelines for patients who use opioids to treat chronic pain, and encourage prescribers, as appropriate, to reduce a patient’s dependence on opioids.
  8. Insurers should create, use, and continually refine “lock-in” programs to reduce the practice of doctor or pharmacy “shopping” by patients who are seeking opioids.
  9. Insurers should use multidisciplinary teams, when appropriate, to coordinate care for members with opioid-use disorder.
  10. Insurers should direct obstetricians and gynecologists in their network to screen pregnant patients for opioid use throughout pregnancy.
  11. Insurers should accept a standard authorization form for disclosure and use of protected health information to better coordinate the care of its members.
  12. Insurers should help government partners to coordinate substance-use treatment for members who are preparing to re-enter the community after a period of incarceration.
  13. The General Assembly should amend state statute so that commercial insurance companies have access to prescription information contained in the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System.
  14. Insurers should eliminate or expedite prior authorizations for accessing Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT).
  15. Insurers should increase reimbursement rates to adequately cover the cost of providing substance-use disorder treatment.

Here at The Center for Community Solutions we have examined the impact of the opioid epidemic on families, the criminal justice system and the behavioral health system and also on ways we can prevent the effects of opioids on future generations through both education and community-based prevention. The prevention work we’ve focused on can be found here, and was highlighted this week at OACBHA’s Opiate Conference.

The various roles that insurance companies, doctors, government, teachers, parents and community leaders can play in putting an end to the opioid crisis for future generations should continue to be highlighted.