New Report Highlights Plan Innovations in Treating Substance Use Disorder

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 27, 2018                                                 
Jeff Van Ness, (202) 204-7515;


WASHINGTON—A new report from The Association for Community Affiliated Plans (ACAP) describes how four ACAP-member Safety Net Health Plans are building strategies around case management to combat substance abuse disorder (SUD). The report was authored by NORC at the University of Chicago.

Safety Net Health Plans’ use of case management for people who live with SUD provides a single point of contact to coordinate health and social services; the patient and their care team can access pertinent treatment information easily. Case management takes a holistic approach to patient care, considering other factors affecting health such as housing, transportation and food insecurity. By conducting a health assessment to understand the patient as a whole, health plans create a tailored care plan and are better-equipped to respond to change.

“There’s a real need for comprehensive care for opioid addiction and other substance use disorders. Safety Net Health Plans meet that need by aptly coordinating comprehensive care,” said ACAP CEO, Margaret A. Murray. “Their strong community ties and track record of serving vulnerable populations inform Safety Net Health Plans’ case management—and help people get complete care.”

Despite their strides in coordinating SUD care, the four plans profiled in the report cited common challenges. One is the siloed nature of substance-abuse treatment data. Federal regulations at 42 CFR Part 2 can impede providers from sharing needed patient treatment information and can lead to significant gaps in care for people in need of treatment.

Another challenge is keeping members engaged and active in their care; if members lapse on receiving vital care, this could prolong treatment and cause other problems down the road. Health plans also face substantial challenges in recruiting qualified providers; many who need medication-assisted treatment (MAT), for instance, a proven way to effectively treat SUD, cannot get it owing to a severe shortage of providers trained in prescribing MAT.

“The research process yielded promising results in showing how care coordination can improve treatment of substance use disorder,” added Cheryl Austein Casnoff, MPH, Senior Fellow with NORC at the University of Chicago.

This report gives key recommendations on how plans can improve their case management efforts in addressing the complex needs of those with SUD related to enhancing care management, adding qualified personnel to the workforce, increasing member engagement, addressing social determinants of health, utilizing and sharing data, and overcoming policy barriers.

The four participating plans in this report included Hennepin Health of Minnesota, CareSource, which operates in several states, AmidaCare of New York, and Health Plan of San Joaquin, California.

To read the full report, visit

About ACAP
ACAP represents 62 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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