Insurers' task force appointed by Ohio AG makes opioid recommendations

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTAP) - A task force appointed by Ohio’s attorney general to study how health insurers can help fight the opioid epidemic has released its list of recommendations.

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“The opioid epidemic knows no boundaries, and we all must work together to prevent abuse and ensure those suffering get the treatment they need,” Attorney General Mike DeWine said. “Health insurers have stepped up with ideas for action in prevention, intervention, and treatment to help Ohioans that are outlined in the report released today.”

Members of the group included representatives from Aetna, Anthem Inc., Buckeye Health Plan, CareSource, Medical Mutual, Molina Healthcare, Ohio Association of Health Plans, Paramount, and United Healthcare.

The following recommendations focused on prevention:

Insurers should cover and encourage, where appropriate, the use of both non-opioid pain medications and alternative treatments to manage pain.

Insurers should identify and develop targeted education efforts for prescribers who write a high volume of opioid prescriptions compared to others in their specialty.

Insurers should ensure providers are aware of and follow appropriate opioid prescribing guidelines, which should be more uniform.

Insurers should develop targeted prevention efforts to reduce the number of opioid prescriptions written for adolescents and young adults who are “opioid-naive.”

Insurers should develop education programs aimed at individuals who are receiving their first opioid prescription to make them aware of the risks of long-term opioid use.

Insurers should work together to develop common, easy-to-understand communications strategies to educate the public about the risks of opioids.

The following recommendations focused on intervention:

Insurers should educate prescribers about properly decreasing opioid dosages to reduce patients’ dependence on opioids.

Insurers should create, use, and continually refine programs to reduce the practice of doctor or pharmacy “shopping” by patients who are seeking opioids.

Insurers should use multi-disciplinary teams to coordinate care for members with opioid-use disorder.

Insurers should direct obstetricians and gynecologists to screen pregnant patients for opioid use throughout pregnancy to reduce the serious health risks for infants.

Insurers should accept a standard authorization form for disclosure and use of protected health information to better coordinate care.

Insurers should help government partners to coordinate substance-use treatment for patients preparing to re-enter the community after a period of incarceration.

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, the system designed to collect data on outpatient prescriptions for controlled substances.

The following recommendations focused on treatment:

Insurers should eliminate or expedite prior authorizations for accessing Medication Assisted Treatment to reduce the amount of time a patient must wait to receive treatment.

Insurers should increase reimbursement rates to adequately cover the cost of providing substance use disorder treatment.

A copy of the report can be found on the Attorney General’s website, www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov.