Delaware Public Media

Highmark puts $1 million towards opioid crisis fight in Delaware

May 17, 2019

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware is putting up some money to help fund the First State’s fight against the opioid crisis.

The insurance company announced a $1 million request for proposal Friday meant for organizations addressing addiction in Delaware communities.

Highmark Delaware’s President Nick Moriello says the money could go to programs giving out naloxone, combating the negative stigma towards people with substance abuse disorder or increasing access to addiction treatment.

“Given the magnitude of the crisis anything we can do to help and be innovative we want to support,” said Moriello.

An information session for interested organizations is planned for later this month.

Highmark is also voicing its support for recommendations made by the Pew Charitable Trusts earlier this year meant to increase access to substance abuse treatment for Delaware’s privately insured population. Specifically, legislation recommended by Pew that would allow more medical professionals to prescribe suboxone to treat opioid addiction.

“I believe that that would be a good move, because it would provide access to individuals who need treatment,” said Highmark Vice President and Medical Director Dr. Caesar DeLeo.

According to Pew, only one in five privately insured Delawareans with substance abuse disorder receive treatment for their addiction.

DeLeo says Highmark is also piloting a telepsychiatry program in West Virginia that treats substance abuse disorder patients. He says if the program works operationally, Highmark will introduce it in Delaware. He adds Highmark is also working to encourage alternative pain treatments and monitor opioid prescribers in Delaware.