ASAM applauds introduction of legislation improving Medicaid response to overdose victims

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The American Society of Addiction Medicine applauded the efforts of U.S. Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA), Joe Manchin (D-WV) and U.S. Reps. Harley Rouda (D-OH) and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) for their efforts to address addiction in Medicaid patients.

The Congressmembers introduced the Improving Medicaid Programs’ Response to Overdose Victims and Enhancing (IMPROVE) Addiction Care Act in September. The legislation would require state Medicaid programs to use their drug utilization review programs to increase access to addiction treatment for program beneficiaries and boost safeguards for beneficiaries who have had non-fatal opioid-related overdoses.

The legislation would ensure that doctors are informed if their Medicaid-enrolled patient suffers from a non-fatal overdose, or if it is a new patient, lets them know if the patient has suffered an overdose previously. The bill would also connect Medicaid patients who overdose with treatment opportunities and perform ongoing provider education.

Ensuring doctors are informed when their patients have a non-fatal overdose is key in making sure doctors have the information they need in prescribing.

“While the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act helps ensure that prescribers are aware of their Medicare Part D patients’ histories of nonfatal, opioid-related overdoses, no changes were made to help ensure that prescribers treating Medicaid beneficiaries are similarly informed,” the ASAM wrote. “Medicaid beneficiaries have been found to be three times more likely to experience an opioid overdose when compared to privately insured individuals. Furthermore, these patients often receive a legal opioid prescription even after a nonfatal opioid overdose. By connecting opioid overdose survivors to addiction treatment, alerting prescribers to their patient’s previous nonfatal, opioid-related overdose or opioid use disorder diagnosis, and offering provider education regarding appropriate prescribing practices, the IMPROVE Addiction Care Act should help prevent opioid overdoses and deaths.”

The provisions within the act would help ensure that doctors do not legally prescribe to Medicaid enrollees the drug that caused their nearly fatal overdose, the organization said.

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