Tufts Health Plan expands commitment to improve access and quality of addiction treatment

Tufts Health Plan has joined the growing national movement to adopt eight “National Principles of Care” for the treatment of addiction that will improve outcomes and save lives. Shatterproof, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to ending the devastation addiction causes families, is spearheading the initiative.

“The high number of Americans – over 21 million – that suffer from substance use disorder is deeply concerning. During the first nine months of 2018, there were over 1,500 deaths in Massachusetts due to the opioid crisis,” said Paul Kasuba, M.D., chief medical officer at Tufts Health Plan. “We are proud to join this national effort and collaborate with Shatterproof to improve access and care in substance use disorder treatment. These Principles are another important step that Tufts Health Plan is taking to ensure our members are receiving the best care possible, at the highest quality.”

The National Principles of Care were derived from the Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health and are backed by three decades of research. Aligning care with these evidence-based Principles will significantly improve the quality of treatment for the 21 million Americans with substance use disorders. Tufts Health Plan will work to identify and promote substance use disorder treatment that aligns with the Principles, which are expected to improve results and save lives. The Principals include:

  • Universal screening for substance use disorders 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 professionals
  • Access to FDA-approved medications
  • Access to non-medical recovery support services

Tufts Health Plan is one of several health plans, representing 250 million lives nationally, who have signed on to the initiative. As part of the commitment, Tufts Health Plan will also serve on 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. The Taskforce will develop metrics to measure progress on this initiative and will publish regularly.

Tufts Health Plan and the opioid epidemic

As the opioid epidemic continues to devastate families, Tufts Health Plan is playing a critical role in its early identification and intervention with initiatives and health benefits designed to treat substance use disorder. Several of the health plan’s initiatives include:

Substance Use Navigator: Complementing the work of our care management program, the substance use disorder navigator helps members and their families understand treatment options, benefits and coverage; make decisions about next steps; find resources available to them and find solutions that fit their situation on a case-by-case basis. This personalized attention allows members to capitalize on the spectrum of treatment options.

Locally-based Treatment: Unlike costly, out-of-state treatment alternatives, Tufts Health Plan advocates for local treatment, allowing for recovery in a familiar environment. This means individuals learn to cope with triggers, rather than avoid them. Local treatment also provides an easier transition back to the community including a return to the member’s professional and personal life.

Medication and Training: Tufts Health Plan has created a unique program to encourage behavioral health and primary care providers to prescribe Suboxone as a medication-assisted treatment by offering providers reimbursement for the federally-mandated training. The goal of this program is to increase access to a critical treatment.

Education: Tufts Health Plan and Delta Dental of Massachusetts are collaborating to improve safe prescribing practices and to promote alternative treatments, through messaging to all dentists. This is critical because, as a 2011 study in the Journal of the American Dental Association indicated, dentists are responsible for 12 percent of prescriptions for fast-acting opioid pain relievers.

About Shatterproof

Shatterproof 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. Shatterproof advocates for changes in federal and state policy and supports the development and implementation of evidence-based solutions for substance use disorders.