Several prominent addiction treatment leaders in Massachusetts attended a March 17 initial legislative hearing on improving the state's treatment system and said several holes need to be filled, including more inpatient services and wider availability of the medication Suboxone.
"We know we have a fragmented system. It's very clear," State Sen. Jennifer L. Flanagan said at the hearing at Mount Wachusett Community College. Flanagan chairs the state Senate's Special Committee on Drug Abuse and Treatment Options, which will hold around eight hearings, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported.
Among the treatment leaders in attendance this week was Spectrum Health Systems CEO Charles Faris, who urged legislators to reject a proposed $3 million in cuts to the state's Bureau of Substance Abuse Services. Faris said many patients who receive detox services lack follow-up care options. He added that the state's daily reimbursement rates for addiction services need to be raised from the $75 a day that has been in place for eight years.
Faris and others also criticized insurers for often requiring patients to "fail first" in outpatient treatment before gaining access to a residential bed. Faris said authorization procedures should be made uniform across all insurers, and that it should take less than an hour to receive an answer from a payer.