To tackle the opioid epidemic, which has been the leading cause of unnatural deaths since 2013, Virginia recently developed an integrated physical and behavioral health continuum of care, which spans multiple treatment settings and includes case management and peer recovery support. The initiative, combined with increased access to naloxone and other efforts, has helped reduce fatal overdoses by 3.3 percent between 2017 and 2018.
In March 2016, with support from Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the Virginia General Assembly passed appropriations mandating transformation of the SUD Medicaid benefit entitled the Addiction and Recovery Treatment Services program or ARTS, which was implemented on April 1, 2017. Early results from Virginia’s ARTS program indicate success in increasing access to care for Medicaid-eligible pregnant women with SUD and opioid use disorder (OUD).
Data obtained from pre-ARTS implementation (covering April 2016-March 2017) compared to post-ARTS implementation (April 2017-March 2018) indicate that the percent of Medicaid-enrolled pregnant women with SUD who received treatment increased from 2 percent to 21 percent, while the rate of pregnant women with OUD who received treatment increased from 4 percent to 31 percent. In addition to increasing treatment rates, the number and types of treatment providers and treatment programs available to pregnant women with SUD and OUD also increased significantly in the post-ARTS implementation period.
Ashley Harrell, senior program advisor with Virginia’s Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS), recently shared the goals and highlights of the program with the Maternal and Child Health Policy Innovation Program (MCH PIP) Policy Academy, hosted by the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP). The academy, made up of eight cross-sector state teams, focuses on the mental health needs of pregnant and parenting women, particularly those with or at risk of substance use disorder (SUD). The ARTS program has six major goals:
- Expand the short-term SUD inpatient detox benefit to all Medicaid/FAMIS enrollees (FAMIS is Virginia’s health insurance program for uninsured children);
- Expand short-term SUD residential treatment to all Medicaid enrollees;
- Increase reimbursement for existing Medicaid/FAMIS SUD treatment services;
- Add peer support services for individuals with SUD and/or mental health conditions;
- Require SUD care coordinators for DMAS-contracted managed care plans; and
- Organize provider education, training, and recruitment activities.
The Virginia state Medicaid agency has made additional policy changes to improve access to care for pregnant enrollees with SUD. Some of these changes include:
- Allowing and encouraging same-day billing of medical and behavioral health services;
- Requiring access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) along the addiction care continuum; and
- Removal of prior authorization requirements for up to 24 mg/day of Suboxone film for in-network buprenorphine-waivered practitioners.
Additionally, the Virginia Medicaid MEDALLION 4.0 has an embedded High-Risk Maternity Program that includes comprehensive care management and family planning services to women with SUD. MEDALLION 4.0 is a statewide, fully capitated, risk-based, mandatory managed care program for Medicaid and Family Access to Medical Insurance Security (FAMIS) members that operates under the authority of a §1915(b) waiver. MEDALLION 4.0 covers pregnant women, infants and children and provides acute and primary health care services, prescription drug coverage, and behavioral health services for their members.
Harrell’s presentation spurred much discussion among academy participants, who quickly shared their concerns about access to care, integration of services, health equity, and the long-term health outcomes of women, children, and families affected by SUD.
Over the next two years, NASHP academy participants will continue to learn from each other and from subject matter policy experts as they strive to develop, support, and advance state-level policy innovations for pregnant and parenting women with or at risk for SUD and/or mental health conditions. Understanding state innovations is key to identifying new strategies to leverage change. As one policy academy participant observed during the meeting, “No one [state] has all the answers, but we have a lot of resources in each other.”
For more information on the academy, read NASHP’s blog, New Eight-State Policy Academy Advances Access to Care for Pregnant/Parenting Women with SUD. For more information about the Virginia ARTS program, visit the Virginia DMAS ARTS website or email questions about the ARTS program to firstname.lastname@example.org.