Beacon Health Options Calls for a Redesign of the Health Care Delivery System Treating Opioid Addiction

White paper recommends implementing a chronic disease model of care to address the crisis of opioid addiction

BOSTON – June 01, 2015 – Beacon Health Options (Beacon), the nation’s premier behavioral health management company, today issued a white paper, Confronting the Crisis of Opioid Addiction, calling for a major redesign of the health care delivery system for opioid addiction. The proposed new model moves from a system overly reliant on episodic, acute care to a chronic disease model of care framework that promotes community-based care coordination.

Opioid addiction has reached crisis proportions with tremendous personal, family, occupational and societal costs. Today, more than 2 million Americans are addicted to prescription opioids with 500,000 Americans addicted to heroin. Opioid deaths have tripled since the 1990s. Opioids are highly addictive synthetic narcotic pain killers used to treat moderate to severe pain. Some examples of commonly known opioids are: Percocet or OxyContin (oxycodone), Vicodin (hydrocodone), Dilaudid (hydromorphone) or Fentanyl.

“The neuroscientific evidence is clear that opioid addiction is a chronic brain disease that must be treated as the chronic disease it is, with a relapsing and unremitting course, just like asthma or diabetes,” said Dr. Emma Stanton, Beacon Associate Chief Medical Officer. “Similar to other chronic conditions, opioid addiction requires ongoing community-based management often measured in years rather than days. Our white paper proposes a systemic framework to address the chronic nature of opioid addiction through a continuum of services that promotes evidence-based, person-centric care.”

Utilizing the six pillars of the chronic disease framework, the white paper calls on policymakers, payers and providers to pursue public health, reimbursement, and system-of-care initiatives, including the following:

  • Making naloxone widely available
  • Removing barriers to non-acute provider capacity (methadone/suboxone) and extending prescriptive authority to mid-level practitioners who are in full-service practices and provide maintenance care
  • Encourage bundled payments for high quality providers to encourage community care, not institutional care
  • Utilizing peers, and office- and home-based formats
  • Reunifying the system of care in accordance with American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) criteria, which requires case and care management services to be part of full-service addiction treatment
  • Applying evidence-based clinical practice guidelines to medication-assisted therapy (MAT) that includes real-time support for prescribers (e.g., an expert staffed support hotline for prescribers treating addictions)
  • Creating anonymous state registries to allow robust tracking of MAT outcomes

“The human toll of this problem and the need for a new approach to treatment can’t be understated,” said Tim Murphy, Chief Executive Officer of Beacon. “We recognize that people struggling with opioid addiction have dealt with stigma and other barriers to effective care. We look forward to starting a dialogue with our elected officials, state and federal agencies, health care providers, and other stakeholders on this important issue. We need to act now.”

To download the full white paper, visit our Beacon Lens blog.

Amy Sheyer
AVP, External Relations