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:
- Eliminate the onerous medical management practices responsible for inadequate, ineffective treatment of addiction;
- 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;
- Incentivize greater coordination of care;
- Adequately disclose processes for ensuring parity compliance;
- 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).