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BCBSA Adds Opioid Abuse Accreditation to Treatment Facilities

The BlueCross BlueShield Association is launching an opioid abuse accreditation for treatment facilities as part of a continuing effort to address the nation’s opioid crisis.

BCBSA launched an opioid abuse accreditation for treatment facilities

Source: Thinkstock

By Thomas Beaton

- The BlueCross BlueShield Association has announced a new accreditation program for opioid abuse treatment centers as a larger part of the organization’s mission to combat the US opioid crisis.

In 2013, only 22 percent of treatment facilities had received official accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), BCBSA said in a press release.

In order to ensure patients can identify high-quality substance abuse treatment centers, BCBSA will designate certain facilities as leaders under its new “Blue Distinction Centers for Substance Use Treatment and Recovery” program.

The centers will provide BCBS members with clinical support and evidence-based treatment to address long-term issues related to opioid use disorder, according to leaders at BCBSA.

“BCBS companies are deeply committed to improving how we care for those currently suffering from opioid use disorder,” said Scott Serota, President and CEO of BCBSA. “Our goal is to assess the effectiveness of treatment options and close the gap in care to make a difference in not just our members’ lives, but the lives of all Americans.”

BCBSA has taken a proactive stance when addressing opioid use disorder, preventing long-term substance abuse, and educating providers about best practices for providing opioid-based treatments.

In April 2018, BCBSA set new prescribing guidelines that require providers to consider all therapeutic alternatives before administering opioid-based medications. The guidelines use clinical recommendations from the CDC to ensure providers understand appropriate alternatives to opioid therapies.

Individual BCBS payers have also experienced success in programs aimed at curbing opioid abuse by reducing unnecessary prescriptions. Blue Shield of California reduced opioid abuse among its beneficiaries by 32 percent in 2017 through a patient safety initiative that enforced the use of alternative medications and a prescription monitoring program.

Shantanu Agrawal, MD, President and CEO of the National Quality Forum said that BCBS has acted as a leader in establishing programming and other initiatives to improve opioid-related patient safety.

“We applaud BCBS companies for their leadership to advance quality opioid treatment. We worked with over 40 experts to develop a playbook that provides guidance on opioid stewardship and stand ready to partner with BCBS companies to help solve the nation’s pressing opioid problem.” Agrawal said.

The BCBSA found encouraging results from opioid prevention programs from 2013 to 2017:

  • Since 2013, opioid prescriptions among all commercially insured members have fallen by 23 percent. Thirty-four states had prescription reductions above 23 percent and Massachusetts experienced a 51 percent decrease in prescriptions.
  • In 2017, 67 percent of all BCBS members filled their first opioid prescription using CDC-based guidelines for dose and duration. Eighty percent of Rhode Island’s BCBS membership filled a prescription using these guidelines.
  • In 2017, 45 percent of BCBS beneficiaries used CDC guidelines when filling all of their prescriptions. In 2013, only 36 percent of members used similar guidelines.
  • The rate of opioid use disorder fell slightly from 6.2 individuals per 1000 beneficiaries in 2016 to 5.9 per 1000 beneficiaries in 2017.

“We are encouraged by these findings, but we remain vigilant,” said Dr. Trent Haywood, senior vice president and chief medical officer for BCBSA.

“More work is needed to better evaluate the effectiveness of treatment options and ensure access to care for those suffering from opioid use disorder. BCBS companies are committed to doing both.”


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