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Medication-Assisted Treatment Options for Opioid Use Disorder Increasing in Michigan 

Efforts to expand access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder are proving successful in Michigan.  

MAT is an evidence-based approach that combines the use of medications such as naltrexone and buprenorphine alongside counseling and behavioral health therapies.  

While experts agree that MAT can be very beneficial in helping patients with opioid use disorder more effectively manage withdrawal symptoms and successfully engage in treatment, a 2019 study by the Center for Health & Research Transformation showed that only 20% of providers in Michigan were trained or providing MAT. Significant gaps in the availability of MAT treatment existed, especially in rural areas where little to no access was available to patients seeking treatment.   

A waiver is required to prepare physicians to treat patients with MAT. To obtain the waiver, eight hours of training is required. The CHRT study also found that only about 16% of providers were interested in MAT training, although younger providers and those serving a higher volume of Medicaid patients were more likely to express interest. 

In 2018, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Value Partnerships Program launched an initiative to expand access, incentivizing primary care physicians to become trained and deliver MAT to their patients. Blue Cross has also worked to increase access in emergency room settings and more recently in obstetric practices. Those efforts are bearing fruit, increasing the number of providers offering MAT services from 317 to 623, a 65% increase.  

Additionally, 15 counties in the state that didn’t previously have access to MAT now have at least one designated physician offering treatment, making it more convenient for people with opioid use disorder to manage their condition effectively.  

Dr. Amy McKenzie, associate chief medical officer, Provider Engagement at Blue Cross, said a continued focus on treating opioid use disorder is necessary. Since 2016, rates of opioid use disorder have gone up 200% for Blue Cross members, while the use of evidence-based treatments such as MAT have remained flat.  

“Unfortunately, there’s still stigma surrounding opioid use disorder, which means patients might be hesitant to seek help,” Dr. McKenzie said. “We want people to know there are effective and confidential treatment options available to them and we’re working hard to ensure everyone in Michigan can access them.”   

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network can help members find an in-network mental health professional by calling behavioral health access lines listed below:   

PPO: Behavioral Health Access Line | 1-800-762-2382   

  • A free and confidential resource that’s just a call away when you need immediate support. Behavioral health professionals answer, 24/7.  

HMO: Behavioral Health Access Line | 1-800-482-5982   

  • Connect with a behavioral health clinician if you need help finding a mental health or substance use provider.   
  • Behavioral health clinicians are available for routine assistance from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. For urgent concerns after hours, clinicians are also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.   

Crisis Assistance: 

  • If you feel that your condition is an emergency that’s not life threatening, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for support at 1-800-273-8255.  
  • If your situation requires immediate emergency help to prevent death or serious harm to yourself or others, please seek help at the nearest emergency room or call 911. 

Learn more about mental health and options you have as a member to seek help at bcbsm.com/mentalhealth.   

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Photo credit: Getty Images

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