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CMS give states Medicaid funding to combat the opioid crisis

States can use the funds to design treatment options such as using virtual care and patient-facing apps.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is giving states guidance on how to access federal Medicaid funding for technology, data and analytics to combat the opioid crisis. 

Funding is available for technological innovations such as remote and virtual care and patient-facing apps, especially in rural regions and other areas with provider shortages. 

States may reduce provider burden by creating a single sign-on interoperability between electronic health records and prescription drug monitoring programs, allowing physicians to e-prescribe in the same platform where electronic health records are held, CMS said.

There is federal support for shared electronic care plans to allow patients and providers to view and update goals for pain management regimens and counseling. These could complement medication assisted therapy. 

States can use funding to support advanced analytics to leverage data sources and create prediction models of patients at risk for opioid dependency, then connect them with appropriate case management.  

CMS did not give funding figures, but issued a letter to states on how they may best use the money to enhance technology to combat drug addiction.

In particular, the agency is addressing Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome for drug withdrawal, as 80 percent of babies treated for NAS receive their care through Medicaid, CMS said. An informational bulletin helps states design approaches to covering critical treatment services for Medicaid eligible infants.  

NAS treatment may occur not only in hospitals, but also in other settings. 

States may also get funding coverage for initial or ongoing substance use disorder treatment services for Medicaid-eligible mothers and/or fathers concurrently with NAS treatment services, CMS said.

Funding is available for the development of enhanced technologies to support public health surveillance for better public health data and reporting. 

"Today's announcement reflects the Trump Administration and HHS's commitment to helping states use Medicaid to support treatment for this condition and other challenges produced by our country's crisis of opioid addiction," said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. "State-level innovation, including in the use of prescription drug monitoring programs and electronic health records, has been and will be a key piece of ending this crisis."

Tim Hill, Acting Director for the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services said states may not be fully aware of available options under Medicaid, as well as the limitations on Medicaid coverage.

"By leveraging and improving the technological capabilities of state Medicaid programs, we are providing Medicaid agencies, providers, and patients with the tools they need to improve health outcomes associated with addiction," Hill said

The new guidelines fall in line with the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis final report released on Nov. 1, 2017. The report recommends integrating prescription drug monitoring systems data into EHRs and supporting interstate data sharing and electronic prescribing of controlled substances. 

The guidance released today compliments a State Medicaid Director letter on strategies to combat the opioid epidemic. The Nov. 1. 2017 letter outlines state flexibility in addressing the opioid crisis via demonstration projects. But states do not have to participate in a section 1115 demonstration project to get access to federal funds in Monday's guidelines.

To date, CMS has approved substance use disorder related section 1115 demonstration projects in Louisiana, West Virginia, Indiana, New Jersey, Kentucky, Utah, Illinois, and Vermont to improve access to treatment for Medicaid beneficiaries.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com

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