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Delaware is training its Medicaid providers to prescribe medication for opioid abuse

Delaware Public Media

Delaware’s new training program for Medicaid providers helps them learn to better treat patients for opioid use disorder in an effort to increase the statewide capacity for Medication Assisted Treatment. 

Delaware is one of 15 states getting a grant from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to help state Medicaid agencies deal with the opioid crisis. 

State officials say part of the more than $3.5 million will go towards creating The Office-Based Opioid Treatment (OBOT) Fellowship Program—a months-long training program for Medicaid providers in primary care, women’s health, psychiatry and other fields to learn how to best prescribe treatments for opioid addiction like buprenorphine.  

“The specialty substance use disorder workforce that we have is limited, and we really need to think about how we use all aspects of our healthcare system to help people get the treatment that they need,” said Dr. Elizabeth Brown, Chief Medical Officer of the state’s Division of Medicaid and Medical Assistance.

In addition to the federal grant, the state has set aside $49,000 to pay providers in the program that agree to take on opioid abuse treatment in their practices, with the goal of training 30 prescribers and 24 support staff statewide. 19 individuals are signed up for the program so far.

Brown says the training is not as much about the medicine itself, but about how to best treat opioid use disorder patients. 

“How do you deal with having sometimes difficult conversations about somewhat stigmatized topics with patients in your clinic?” asked Brown. “How do you do an intake assessment to really get an understanding of what someone's opioid use actually is and how do you create that trusting relationship with a patient?”

Nationally, Medicaid is the largest payer for opioid use disorder.

The training program will run from late March to September.

Delaware had the second highest overdose death rate in the nation in 2019 with 431 deaths, and officials say that number likely increased last year.

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