Report Highlights Safety Net Health Plan Efforts to Promote Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction

  Jeff Van Ness, (202) 204-7515


WASHINGTON—A new report from the Association for Community Affiliated Plans (ACAP) profiles the efforts of Safety Net Health Plans to address opioid use disorder through the promotion of medication-assisted treatment (MAT), an approach that combines behavioral therapy and the administration of three medications—methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone—to treat addiction.

While MAT has been proven to be effective in treating opioid and alcohol use disorders, only about 1 in 10 Americans who seek MAT can receive it, owing in part to a shortage of prescribers and addiction specialists. The report profiles the efforts of six ACAP-member Safety Net Health Plans to address the shortage. It is part of a continuing effort among ACAP and its member plans to collaborate on innovative approaches to prevent and reduce prescription drug overuse.

“Medication-assisted treatment is a proven and powerful option that saves lives and money. But the shortage of providers is universal to health plans everywhere—including Safety Net Health Plans,” said ACAP CEO Meg Murray. “Accordingly, we’re doing everything we can to open up access to this crucial treatment, and sharing our best practices in recruiting and supporting MAT providers.”

The plans profiled in the report include Community Health Network of Connecticut; Geisinger Health Plan and UPMC for You of Pennsylvania; Inland Empire Health Plan and Partnership HealthPlan, both of California; Passport Health Plan of Kentucky; and Virginia Premier Health Plan.

The report explores how these plans work to recruit, support and retain MAT prescribers through financial incentives, operational support and educational opportunities. Education of providers is of particular importance: when providers better understand addiction and the mechanism of recovery, they are more willing to treat patients who live with an opioid use disorder and serve as champions of MAT prescribing. It also describes techniques for retaining and supporting current MAT prescribers through programs ranging from innovative payment models to administrative and practice support.

The report also explores in detail a collaboration between the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Medicaid agency and Virginia Premier Health Plan who, operating under a waiver, offer an innovative office-based opioid treatment program that operates in a manner similar to a patient-centered medical home.

“If there’s one thing we’ve found in our efforts to confront the opioid epidemic, it’s that nobody can effectively confront opioid use disorder in a silo,” added Murray. “Collaboration is a common thread to any effective response, whether among plans, between plans or providers, or between providers and states.”

The report was developed and written by Health Management Associates and supported through a grant from the Open Society Foundations.

For more, visit 

About ACAP
ACAP represents 61 Safety Net Health Plans, which provide health coverage to more than 21 million people in 29 states. Safety Net Health Plans serve their members through Medicaid, Medicare, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Marketplace and other health programs. For more information, visit

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