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A closer look at the Pew Charitable Trust's opioid crisis recommendations

Delaware Public Media

The Pew Charitable Trusts recently made recommendations to the state of Delaware on what more it can do to combat the opioid crisis.

Medicaid changes and expansion were among the recommendations. Pew wants Delaware to start issuing Medicaid reimbursements to medical providers who coordinate the care of substance abuse patients. This would require new legislation from the state's General Assembly.

Pew also wants the state to change its Medicaid contracts to create a standard tool that would assess who requires addiction treatment. 

Pew also addressed private insurance. It found only one-fifth of commercially insured Delawareans diagnosed with opioid-related problems received any treatment in 2016.

Beth Connolly is the Project Manager for Pew’s Substance Abuse Treatment Initiative. She says the state should encourage insurance companies and Delaware’s largest employers to create a committee this summer with the goal of increasing access to substance abuse disorder treatment for the privately insured.

“There would need to be a discussion about what the current playing field is and how they could change the playing field so privately insured folks could access treatment at a higher rate,” said Connolly.

The recommendations also call for more access to medication-assisted treatment like buprenorphine and methadone.

Pew advises Delaware to create more dosing sites, expand medication-assisted treatment programs in prisons and remove waivers required to prescribe the medicines using telemedicine.

“[Telemedicine] is a great way to reach people in the rural parts of the state where there may not be as many treatment options available to them,” said Connolly.

The Delaware Department of Correction estimates just under half of its inmates have substance use issues, and only a small minority receive treatment.

Pew officials say they will issue the final report soon and may coordinate that with legislator education and testimony in March.

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