SOURCE: Boston Globe By: Vic DiGravio

A REPORT from the Massachusetts Center for Health Information (CHIA) is tremendous news for those suffering from addiction, and for treatment providers. Despite alarms raised by health insurers, the report estimates that the cost of mandated coverage of addiction treatment will be lower than many expected and that insurers are capable of covering these critical services.

In July, the Massachusetts Legislature passed historic addiction treatment legislation in response to the opioid epidemic, which has ravaged our communities. Before the passage of this legislation and over the past few months, insurance providers have repeatedly expressed concern about the cost impact of the new law, which requires coverage of vital addiction treatment services.

Under the new law, which will take effect in October 2015, insurers will be responsible for covering proven life-saving services to those struggling with addiction. These services include detoxification programs and step-down services, alcohol and drug counseling, and abuse-deterrent opioids.

The CHIA report shows that coverage for addiction treatment will cost insurers pennies per month to provide. For example, covering individuals’ visits to licensed alcohol and drug counselors will cost from $0.02 – $0.17 per premium. Consider also that 58 people in Massachusetts died from opioid overdoses during the first half of December. A small increase in premiums should cause no hesitation.

The behavioral health care community is encouraged by CHIA’s findings. We are ready to work with families and individuals struggling with addiction, insurers, and providers to find solutions and to stop this epidemic.

Vic DiGravio

Natick

The writer is president and CEO of the Association for Behavioral Healthcare.

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