Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island Advances Multiple Initiatives to Combat Opioid Addiction


Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) today announced a new program to increase access to intensive medical treatment options addressing addiction to opioids. The CODAC Medication Assisted Treatment Program, which includes integrated medication-assisted treatment, nursing, counseling and case management services, is one of several initiatives BCBSRI has launched to expand access to effective treatment and recovery options.

CODAC, deemed Rhode Island’s first Center of Excellence by state health officials for its treatment of opioid use disorders, provides treatment, recovery and prevention services to individuals and families. As part of the CODAC program, available to BCBSRI members, individuals receive a comprehensive biopsychosocial assessment and medical exam prior to being treated for opiate addiction. Members also have expanded treatment offerings from methadone to buprenorphine/naloxone among others.  Ongoing support and interventions to maintain recovery are a critical part of the program. Additionally, CODAC facilities, which are located in six communities around the state, are a center of referral and support for primary care physicians in the community who are treating patients with opiate dependence.  

“It is critical that clinicians have an opportunity to work with their patients to treat this issue with a full array of medical tools,” said Matthew Collins, MD, medical director and vice president of clinical integration at BCBSRI. “From identifying the right medication necessary to support recovery, to case management for ongoing patient engagement, this comprehensive approach may be one of the best tools available in supporting individuals in recovery.”

“Given the extent of the opioid crisis and our understanding of how difficult it can be to address addiction, a medical approach is clearly warranted,” said Linda Hurley, CODAC president & CEO. “We are pleased to have the opportunity to collaborate with BCBSRI on this important program and support individuals beginning their recovery process.”

BCBSRI is taking a comprehensive approach to addressing the opioid crisis, considering the factors that lead to addiction and the support necessary for long-term recovery. A requirement for prior-authorization for long acting opioid prescriptions led to a 25 percent reduction in such prescriptions in 2014.  The company also supports Rhode Island Department of Health initiatives to minimize exposure to opioids by creating limits on the number of opioid doses prescribed to patients who are first time users.

BCBSRI has also removed prior-authorization requirements for the first, 10-day prescription of Suboxone® (buprenorphine/naloxone) tablets, making it easier to support individuals in addressing their recovery needs immediately.  BCBSRI also was one of the first commercial insurers locally to provide members with access to peer recovery coaches to help support healing and recovery.   

BCBSRI also covers services through Butler Hospital’s ambulatory detoxification program for members who are able to travel back and forth from home, have home-based support and do not have medical or psychiatric conditions that require an inpatient level of care.

“Addressing opioid addiction requires a collaborative approach that includes clinicians, public health organizations, family members and community,” said Collins. “We believe that BCBSRI has been taking the right steps in partnership with each of these groups and hope that a public conversation around these complex issues will help us be more successful in supporting our community members struggling with addiction.”

The company also announced that it would host a special screening of Chasing the Dragon, a one-hour television documentary, as part of its annual community meeting on November 30, 2016. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion featuring local experts on key challenges in effectively addressing the opioid epidemic. 

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