On May 13, 2014, the Massachusetts State Senate unanimously passed a bill that, if signed into law, would increase state efforts to address the growing heroin and opiate epidemic.
The bill would expand access to addiction treatment services and prohibit insurers from restricting coverage. The passage of this bill comes as a result of the widespread and growing problem of drug addiction in Massachusetts that has caused hundreds of overdose deaths just this year.
The bill would remove prior authorization for Acute Treatment Services (detox) for all MassHealth Managed Care entities and requires coverage of up to 15 days of Clinical Stabilization Services. It also would remove prior authorization for Acute Treatment Services and Clinical Stabilization Services for commercial insurers and requires coverage for up to 21 days.
The Senate legislation would direct the Health Policy Commission, in consultation with the Department of Public Health, to determine standards for evidence-based, effective substance abuse treatment with high quality outcomes. It would also create a certification process for providers and require insurance companies to provide reimbursement for substance abuse treatments delivered by a licensed alcohol and drug counselor.
Finally, the bill would require medical examiners to report overdose deaths in order to gather better data on how many people are dying and from what drugs. The bill will now move on to the House of Representatives.
In addition, the Governor has assembled a state opiate task force to determine how the state should spend $20 million designated to increase treatment and recovery services. The task force is made up of doctors, insurance providers, public officials, and first responders. It is expected to send its policy recommendations to the Governor within the next week. Click here for more information.