Readers sound off on health insurance and the opioid crisis, "Mutts" and the Bull statue
Added 11-17-19 03:13:02am EST - “Manhattan: Parties responsible for the nation's opioid crisis are now being held accountable. They include manufacturers and distributors that pushed drug sales, the FDA for its slow response to the epidemic, and doctors who overprescribed…” - Nydailynews.com
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Manhattan: Parties responsible for the nation’s opioid crisis are now being held accountable. They include manufacturers and distributors that pushed drug sales, the FDA for its slow response to the epidemic, and doctors who overprescribed for self-gain. Absent from but deserving listing among the wrongdoers are health insurance companies including managed behavioral health care organizations and pharmacy benefit managers.
As the past president of the New York State Psychiatric Association and past chair of the state Mental Health Services Council, I know that when addicted persons seek treatment, time is of the essence. Delays can disrupt their engagement with treatment and could prove lethal. Corporate bottom lines may benefit from postponement of care or medications.
The Behavioral Health Insurance Parity Reforms, part of this year’s state budget, provide a roadmap of maneuvers insurers use as barriers to members accessing benefits. The law prohibits prior authorization for initial inpatient and outpatient substance use disorder treatment, protects care rendered if evidence-based, obliges disclosure of previously hidden medical necessity criteria plans used to disallow care, and requires that plans self-report on their compliance with the provisions of the federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008.
Since then, insurers have demonstrated their determination to thwart the letter and spirit of the federal parity law to the detriment of those urgently needing treatment while advocates for mental health and substance use disorder services have waged combat with health plans around the law’s implementation.
Federal and state authorities should investigate health insurance plans to assess the human and dollar costs resulting from their obstructive policies. Barry B. Perlman, MD
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