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New guide released addressing healthcare reform for addiction services providers

December 8, 2010
by News release
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Washington, D.C. – A new resource is available for addiction services providers preparing for systems transformation efforts as a result healthcare reform. "Implementing Healthcare Reform: First Steps to Transforming Your Organization, A Practical Guide for Leaders” outlines, in an easy-to-follow format, several steps agencies can take to initiate systems transformation to take advantage of the many opportunities available under healthcare reform.

“The changes we will see in the next three to five years under health reform will offer providers many new opportunities to expand their services,” said Becky Vaughn, CEO of the State Associations of Addiction Services, one of the lead organizations that developed the Guide.

“Agencies will be able to increase their revenue by accessing private insurance and expanded public coverage. We will be a part of the overall healthcare network, something we have worked for as a field for years. Perhaps most importantly, we will be able to provide better care to more people.”

The Guide is a project of the Moving Forward Alliance (MFA), a collaborative effort organized by SAAS and NIATx and comprised of leaders in the addiction services field.

Providers can use this resource to determine initial steps, set goals, and begin thinking strategically about how to position their organization to succeed in the new healthcare environment, Vaughn said.

“We anticipate many changes in how providers do business, including more rigorous professional credentialing, utilization management or service pre-authorization, increased use of diagnostic and screening tools, increased need for data management, and the use of electronic health records as standard practice,” Vaughn said. “Providers cannot just wake up one morning and say ‘Ok we are ready for healthcare reform.’ We are talking about substantial, long-term, and permanent systems transformation. Providers need to start now. It’s not too late, but time is getting short.”

While there are many opportunities available, agencies that have not adequately adapted their business practices and processes, or prepared their staff, boards of directors, and patients will not be able to take advantage of the changes and many will struggle to survive, said Vaughn.

“We are working hard to ensure providers have the information, tools, training, and technical assistance that will allow them to succeed,” she said. “However, organizations that do not make the dramatic shifts in business practices to meet the changing healthcare environment will not survive.”

While many decisions have been made and implementation of reform provisions is taking place now, there are some specific issues that have yet to be resolved, Vaughn added.

“There are some issues we do not have full clarity on: the specific benefit packages, the role of the Federal Block Grant, or how prevention will work under health reform,” she said. “But what we do know is that reform is a reality and the information we have included in the Guide is important for organizations taking their first steps. We will update the Guide as needed; we hope providers will continue to look to this document and subsequent resources we develop for the most current information.”

The Guide is available at no charge at www.saasnet.org. It will be updated regularly with the most current information.

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