Horizon Joins Groundbreaking Coalition Committed to Improve Access to and Quality of Evidence-Based Addiction Treatment

Furthering its longstanding commitment to a multi-faceted effort to combat New Jersey’s opioid crisis, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey (Horizon BCBSNJ)  signed on to a national coalition of 16 health insurance companies agreeing to adopt eight “National Principles of Care” for the treatment of addiction that will improve outcomes and save lives.

The National Principles of Care stem from the Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health and are backed by three decades of research. These evidence-based principles are designed to significantly improve the quality of treatment for the 21 million Americans with substance use disorders.

The eight “National Principles of Care for Substance Use Disorder Treatment” are:

  • Universal screening for substance use disorders (SUDs) across medical care settings
  • Personalized diagnosis, assessment, and treatment planning
  • Rapid access to appropriate Substance Use Disorder care
  • Engagement in continuing long-term outpatient care with monitoring and adjustments to treatment
  • Concurrent, coordinated care for physical and mental illness
  • Access to fully trained and accredited behavioral health professionals
  • Access to FDA-approved medications
  • Access to non-medical recovery support services

“Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey covers 3.8 million lives and as the state’s largest insurer, we’ve been at the forefront of trying to prevent, detect, and treat substance use disorders including opioid abuse. We understand New Jersey because we are New Jersey – we know our members, our providers, and our communities- and have built our approach to the opioid crisis around the idea that health care solutions have to exist in the communities where our members live, work and play.  That is true whether we are talking about substance use disorders, diabetes, or cancer,” said Mary Ann Christopher, Horizon BCBSNJ Vice President of Clinical Operations and Transformation.  “These National Principles of Care are furthering the goal of putting substance use disorders on the same plane as other chronic illness.  They will also enable Horizon to advance our goal of marrying evidence-based diagnosis and treatment models with personalized solutions reflecting the uniqueness of every person and the distinctive characteristics of care in their community.”

This initiative is part of Horizon BCBSNJ’s work as a member of the Substance Use Disorder Treatment Task Force, launched in April 2017 by Gary Mendell, founder and CEO of Shatterproof, and Dr. Thomas McLellan, founder and chairman of the Treatment Research Institute and former Deputy Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President Obama. Shatterproof, founded in 2011, is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to ending the devastation the disease of addiction causes families. Shatterproof works to end the stigma and foster a community of support, providing evidence-based resources to support prevention, treatment, and recovery.

“The standard for every major disease in our country is treatment within our healthcare system using research-based medications and therapies – except addiction,” said Gary Mendell, CEO of Shatterproof and founder of the Substance Use Disorder Treatment Task Force. “For the first time in history, leading healthcare insurers and other third-party payers from across our nation have come together and agreed to identify, promote, and reward one core set of evidence-based principles for addiction treatment. Payers will now begin to establish an accountability process that will systemically change and significantly improve the way that treatment for addiction is delivered in our country.”

For the past decade, Horizon BCBSNJ has been a leading voice in New Jersey combating substance addiction and abuse. The company’s efforts include programs and initiatives focused on education, prevention, detection, treatment and recovery support. Examples of that commitment include initiatives such as the PDFNJ (Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey) Knock Out Opioid Abuse Town Hall Series, based on the Surgeon General’s recommendation regarding opioid abuse, prevention and awareness;  the Triple Therapy Alert Program which identifies members who are receiving a combination of a narcotic, a benzodiazepine and a muscle relaxant from two or more prescribers; the Opioid Outlier Program which identifies members who are on high doses of opioids as outliers based on morphine-equivalent dose (MED) and the Horizon Behavioral Health program which integrates medical, behavioral health and substance use disorder services.

“Horizon, in collaboration with the Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey, is currently conducting a series of town hall meetings across New Jersey that are bringing together community based, grassroots treatment and recovery support organizations, law enforcement, government agencies, patients who’ve dealt with substance use disorders, their families and the providers who are on the front line treating them.  One of the primary goals of those town halls is to build a catalogue of best practices from each of those communities that we will be able to aggregate, share, and scale so that members can best be treated in their home community with their individual support system and communities there to help ensure a successful road to recovery,” said Christopher. “Horizon is already testing and funding several treatment and support concepts designed to expand the continuum of SUD care both vertically and horizontally including community-based peer recovery specialists and community health workers, telehealth solutions and embedded primary care/ behavioral health models.  These National Principles of Care will be a critical ingredient in evaluating and developing the evidence-based, localized treatment solutions that are the key to turning the tide on this epidemic.”

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