SAN FRANCISCO, May 5, 2011 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- The California Society of Addiction Medicine (CSAM) urged state leadersto begin adopting effective addiction treatment standards under national health care reform to ensure that millions of Californians finally get the care they need.
"California's budget crisis is decimating state funding for addiction treatment, but health care reform provides the opportunity to make sure that treatment is expanded to nearly everyone who needs it through public and private insurance," Cermak said. "The long history of systemic, institutionalized discrimination against people suffering from addictive disease can finally be ended through health care reform."
Californians with substance use disorders are grossly underserved. According to 2007 state estimates from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2.3 million Californians needed but didn't receive treatment for alcohol abuse and 764,000 needed but didn't receive treatment for drug abuse.
As with many federal mandates, states will have wide latitude in how they carry out the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, legislation that is the heart of federal health care reform. The state of California can design its system of substance use disorder treatment through laws and regulations that govern Medi-Cal, private insurers and the new health insurance exchange where individuals will shop for insurance. Many changes from the Affordable Care Act that impact substance use disorder treatment will go into effect in 2014.
Most health care systems have little experience in substance use and mental health disorder treatment, because nearly all insurers and health plans have systematically provided minimal treatment benefits in a discriminatory attempt to reduce costs. The state can set the standard for an effective substance use core benefit that will substantially reduce costs to the public and insurers that result from untreated substance abuse and the expensive medical conditions that often co-occur.
"The National Institutes of Health have established standards for addiction treatment and now California needs to implement these standards, which for the first time would manage substance use disorders as treatable chronic illnesses, just like hypertension, diabetes or asthma," Cermak said. "Discriminatory limits by health plan actuaries must end. The only limit on treatment can be medical necessity, whether it's for diabetes or addiction. People need treatment when they are ill, without arbitrary limitations."
Medically necessary standards for substance use disorder treatment include:
To ensure that people with substance use disorder receive adequate treatment under health care reform, California lawmakers and regulators also must ensure that there is effective outreach about newly available treatment, including a state hotline for treatment; upgrade training standards for the treatment workforce; and monitor expansion of substance use disorder treatment under health care reform to assure that true parity is achieved.
CSAM is the California organization of physicians who specialize in addiction medicine, the medical specialty that provides care and treatment for millions of Americans with alcoholism and other substance use disorders. Addiction medicine includes both pharmaceutical and behavioral treatments and aligns with other specialties including public health, psychiatry and internal medicine. CSAM is dedicated to education of physicians and other health professionals about substance use disorders, and promoting research, prevention and implementation of evidence-based treatment. CSAM represents the voice of addiction medicine on public policy and clinical issues in California.
Media Contact: Jim Gogek Jim Gogek Consulting, 619-609-6245, [email protected]
SOURCE Jim Gogek Consulting
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