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Drug & Alcohol

The Integration Edge is a new resource from the SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions (CIHS) that outlines practical tips and examples from organizations that have been working to integrate primary and behavioral health care. CIHS has been exploring partnerships, confidentiality issues, and sharing information and data-driven care. CIHS will regularly update The Integration Edge with new topics and practical examples. Whole person, health care focused practitioners and provider organizations looking for additional advice or with a topic they would like to see highlighted can visit this new website or contact CIHS by phone 202-684-7457 or email.

Know about the latest topics as they are added to The Integration Edge when you sign up for the email as the center adds new topics and other news related to integration.

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From ASAM Weekly

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced on November 17 that nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) can begin taking the 24 hours of required training to prescribe buprenorphine to treat opioid use disorder. NPs and PAs who complete the required training and seek to prescribe buprenorphine for up to 30 patients will be able to apply to do so beginning in early 2017. HHS is also announcing its intent to initiate rulemaking to allow NPs and PAs who have prescribed at the 30-patient limit for one year to apply for a waiver to prescribe buprenorphine for up to 100 patients. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is working quickly with training providers to help them adapt curricula and obtain continuing education credits for this training. Updates on training information and the waiver application will be available on the SAMHSA and American Society of Addiction Medicine websites.

Patrick Kennedy, former United States Representative and founder of the Kennedy Forum, has issued an open letter to the heads of the leading insurance companies in response to the findings of last week’s Surgeon General’s report. The report, Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, addresses a broad array of issues, ranging from illicit drug abuse to prescription drug addiction, alcohol use, binge drinking, and teen alcoholism. Mr. Kennedy’s letter urges the commercial nation’s health industry to take action in five key areas:

  1. Eliminate the onerous medical management practices responsible for inadequate, ineffective treatment of addiction;
  2. Immediately ensure that all plans cover and reimburse for well-supported medication-assisted treatment (MAT), including buprenorphine, buprenorphine-naloxone, buprenorphine-hydrochloride, methadone, naltrexone, acamprosate, and disulfiram, at rates equal to coverage for medications used to treat other forms of chronic illness;
  3. Incentivize greater coordination of care;
  4. Adequately disclose processes for ensuring parity compliance;
  5. Promote screening and work with communities to implement prevention interventions.

Each of these requests is clarified in further detail in the letter. Patrick Kennedy was the prime sponsor of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 and author of the book, A Common Struggle (Blue Rider Press/Penguin Random House, 2015).

Yesterday, a Texas federal judge issued a temporary injunction to the Department of Labor’s (DOL) overtime rule. In granting the preliminary injunction, the federal judge said the DOL’s overtime rule exceeds the authority the agency was granted by Congress.

As you may recall, the DOL’s overtime rule was announced in May, and it has been opposed by many businesses and nonprofits. The rule was to take effect on December 1 of this year. Now with yesterday’s ruling, it is likely that President-elect Trump’s administration, which opposed the rule, will have time to review it and make changes and/or roll back various provisions contained in the current rule.

The DOL could appeal the Tuesday ruling, but with the Obama administration only having approximately two months in office, an appeal is unlikely. With many RCPA members already implementing and announcing changes to comply with the DOL’s overtime rule, it might be difficult for those members to roll back these changes, because it may impact employee morale. As further information is released, RCPA will provide additional guidance to members. Please contact Jack Phillips, RCPA Director of Government Affairs with any questions.

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Pennsylvania is experiencing an opioid crisis of unprecedented proportions. A document summarizing of one of the most significant problems in the drug and alcohol treatment system was recently sent to Secretary Gary Tennis, Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) and Deputy Secretary Dennis Marion, Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS).

The drug and alcohol programs have been chronically underfunded for many years. Treatment providers have worked to operate efficiently and within the constraints of budgeting limitations. However, the consequences of these financial limitations, particularly the lack of rate increases, have caused severe financial strain on the provider system. The lack of a fair rate setting process which assures that the reasonable cost of services are covered has led to inadequate rates, resulting in programs closing, no longer working in the publicly funded system, or refusing to increase the size of their commitment to offering services to public clients. This can best be evidenced by the extreme lack of detox facilities available today.

RCPA has requested an opportunity to work with DDAP and OMHSAS to assure adequate services to meet the needs of the citizens of Pennsylvania. The next step will be to meet with both officials to discuss the critical issue of implementing a fair rate setting process. Contact RCPA Director, Drug & Alcohol Division, Lynn Cooper, with any questions.

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The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) sent an announcement out to the drug and alcohol community warning of incorrect routing of calls for treatment placement. The purpose of the announcement is to make single county authorities (SCAs) and treatment providers aware of an issue that has been occurring more frequently over the past few days. Individuals from the general public have been using Google to locate treatment providers and/or SCAs and the phone number Google shows for the facility is NOT that of the SCA/provider. Apparently, scammers are working to direct unsuspecting people in need of treatment to programs in Florida. As to be expected, their interest is only with people who have private insurance. These scams are creating roadblocks to treatment and major confusion for those seeking needed treatment. Numerous RCPA members have verified that these acts are creating major problems. Members have reported that these companies, and ones like them, are using false and misleading advertising/tactics and illegally using the identities of treatment providers here in Pennsylvania.

DDAP reported that it appears there is an option on Google where the SCA/provider can suggest an edit to the incorrect information and by doing so, can select scam/scammer as the reason for the change. DDAP is working hard to get callers the correct contact information for the SCA/provider. Individual agencies may want to attempt to correct the information on the web search engines whenever possible. Questions should be directed to Lynn Cooper.