Michigan Opioid Partnership Commits $5 Million for Programs Focused on Treating Opioid Addiction in Michigan

Lucy Ciaramitaro

| 6 min read

Governor Whitmer and Michigan Opioid Partnership Representatives
Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Opioid Partnership announced a unique strategy that combines public and private funds to support innovative and evidence-based treatment programs for people with opioid use disorder. Called a “no wrong door approach,” the strategy removes the barriers to entry for those needing treatment for opioid addiction and helps them get on a path to successful recovery. The Michigan Opioid Partnership is a public-private collaborative with a mission to decrease opioid overdoses and deaths through prevention, treatment, harm reduction and sustained recovery. The partnership is made up of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, the Ethel and James Flinn Foundation, The Jewish Fund, the Michigan Health Endowment Fund and the Superior Health Foundation. Grants announced today will fund planning, training and coordination of treatment for opioid use disorder. The collaborative will make funds available to support the use of medication-assisted treatment (MAT), from the first point of medical contact in a hospital or emergency room to continued treatment in a community-based program. Funds will also assist jails using a continuity of care approach focused on long-term treatment of opioid use disorder. MAT is an evidence-based treatment for opioid addiction that usually includes both medication and behavioral therapy.
“Opioid overdoses and deaths have hurt families all over Michigan,” said Whitmer. “The number of annual opioid-related overdose deaths in the state has more than tripled since 2011, with 2,053 opioid overdoses in 2017 alone. If we’re going to tackle the opioid crisis and get Michigan families on track to recovery, we need to build strong partnerships between state government, philanthropy, and the medical community. I’m grateful for this partnership and am ready to work with this team and everyone else who wants to reduce opioid deaths here in Michigan.” Two hospital systems across the state will receive grants to pilot projects designed to help change the culture in hospitals and emergency rooms to better combat the opioid epidemic. Beaumont Hospital in southeast Michigan and Munson Medical Center in Northern Lower Michigan have been selected to receive funds for pilot projects that utilize medication-assisted treatment in partnership with outpatient treatment providers. The grants total over $1.3 million. Additional hospital grants are expected to be announced in the coming months. “We are thrilled to receive this funding to help with our efforts to combat the opioid crisis in our community,” said Dr. Les Rocher, Chief Medical Officer for Beaumont Health. “We plan to launch a pilot, team-based program at our Royal Oak campus called, ‘The Beaumont Addiction Medicine Service.’ The program will start hospitalized patients, who are admitted for medical/surgical conditions and are diagnosed with opioid use disorder, on medication assisted treatment before they leave the hospital. A key part of our program is to safely transition these patients to community partners where they can receive ongoing treatment. If successful, our hope is to extend the service to additional sites,” “We are extremely grateful for the state’s recognition and assistance in helping us meet the challenges facing patients in northern Michigan who are struggling with opioid addiction,” said Ed Ness, president, and CEO of Munson Healthcare. “The MI Opioid Partnership strengthens our ability to serve our communities and take a leading role in helping our patients achieve positive outcomes.” “Hospitals have been selected based on existing institutional support, expertise, capacity and the relationships with community providers that will enable them to carry out this work,” said Paul Hillegonds, CEO, Michigan Health Endowment Fund. “Medical professionals are on the front lines of the opioid epidemic and have a key role in the state’s ability to improve addiction treatment and enhance awareness of options to those in need and to save lives.” Continuing the “no wrong door approach” for Michigan, $1.5 million of the funds will be committed to expanding medication-assisted treatment and enhance identification of substance use disorders at jail intake. Wayne State University, Center for Behavioral Health and Justice will receive a grant to coordinate the effort. County jails will also be selected for funding, to work in partnership with the WSU team to serve inmates with addiction. The 16-month project will build a lasting partnership between the criminal justice and substance abuse treatment communities. The plan is to accomplish this by supporting county-level implementation coupled with data-driven technical assistance to demonstrate need and generate solutions that will increase access to needed treatment. Once trained, community stakeholders will use administrative data to assess the success of their invention, as well as improve the quality of data within each county.
“Enhancing continuity of care to include jails will assist individuals with opioid use disorder in either continuing or beginning MAT within the jail,” stated Sheryl Kubiak, dean of the Wayne State School of Social Work and director of the Center for Behavioral Health and Justice. “Interfacing with the jail provides another important opportunity for intervention in our communities and reduces the likelihood individual’s with opioid use disorders will return to jail. We are committed to improving the lives of those who reside in Michigan.” “As Michigan’s largest health insurer, we are acutely aware of the devastating impact of the opioid crisis on families.,” said Daniel J. Loepp, president and CEO, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “We are committed to continuing to work with partners to identify and support meaningful solutions like these to improve addiction treatment and enhance awareness of options available to those in need – not only for the members we serve, but for benefit of the entire state. Our ultimate goal is saving lives.” In 2017, drug overdoses killed nearly 2,700 people in Michigan, with 2,053 of those deaths attributed to opioids, according to the latest MDHHS statistics. According to a Centers for Disease Control report, overall drug overdose deaths in Michigan exceeded traffic and gun deaths combined in 2017. Medication-assisted treatment involves utilizing U.S. Drug Administration-approved drugs to treat addiction. While they have been shown to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms and prevent overdose, the drugs are difficult to access. Efforts across the country, including California and Massachusetts have found success initiating medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder in emergency rooms in tandem with a warm handoff to continued outpatient medication-assisted treatment and behavioral therapy. Results of this culture change have shown to reduce relapse and overdose. “The Michigan Opioid Partnership is working to support emerging ideas to help solve the opioid crisis,” Mariam Noland, president of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan said. “Serving addiction innovatively in hospital emergency rooms and in county jails can help set the foundation for what is possible across the state.”
MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association