New insurance agreement helps those recovering from drug addiction

Local News

When getting on the road to recovery from an opioid addiction, time is critical.

State officials announced an agreement with insurance companies Friday, that they say will make sure that process moves along as fast as possible.

State officials announced the removal of barriers which will now allow people who use medications to aid in their addiction recovery to have faster access to those drugs.

“Time can be the difference between treatment and saving someone’s life,” said Teresa Miller, Secretary, PA Department of Human Services.

On Friday, Wolf administration officials announced an agreement with seven commercial insurers to remove prior authorization for medication assisted treatment. Currently, many of the drugs used to treat opioid addiction require patients go through the prior authorization process before getting access.

“We want to ensure that individuals who need treatment can get the level of care they need, when they need it, without unnecessary barriers,” said PA Insurance Commissioner, Jessica Altman.

The prior authorization process could last up to several days. Health secretary Dr. Rachel Levine says that time is precious when it comes to addiction.

“A two or three day wait can be really critical,” said Dr. Levine. “And then they might relapse and lose that window of opportunity to get into recovery.”

The new guidelines also require that prior authorization when patients are prescribed certain opioids, in an effort to make sure those drugs are only being given out when necessary.

As part of these guidelines, insurers will also cover the overdose drug “naloxone.”

“This is just one more step that a physician would have to go through to think ‘Is an opioid the best medicine to use for this patient’s pain?’ So, it’s like putting on the brakes a bit,” said Dr. Levine.

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