WASHINGTON – Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) and top executives from Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies around the country today committed to addressing the nation’s growing opioid crisis with an executive-level committee that will investigate its impact on individuals, local communities and the healthcare system as a whole. A new steering committee will develop recommendations on how BCBS companies can collaborate with healthcare professionals, government officials and communities across the country to combat opioid abuse and prevent addiction.
Collectively, BCBS companies provide health insurance coverage to nearly 105 million people—one in three Americans—and the BCBS System has an unmatched network of doctors and hospitals that serve as partners in providing solutions to opioid abuse and addiction. In addition to committing top-level executives to address the opioid crisis, BCBSA will:
- Tap the BCBS System’s industry-leading data capabilities to look deeper into the prevalence of opioid addiction in the U.S. and its impact on the nation’s healthcare system.
- Help educate Americans on opioid abuse and how to prevent it by providing funding for the production of a documentary for public broadcasting that provides a firsthand account of the struggles of individuals and families. The documentary, produced by WNED TV Buffalo/Toronto, will provide a solution-oriented look at how to spot the signs of painkiller addiction and get help. It is expected to be released later this year. The program will be supported by educational materials to encourage community discussion of this subject.
BCBSA will announce its commitment to help fight the opioid epidemic during the National Governors Association (NGA) Winter Meeting taking place Feb. 19-22 in Washington, D.C. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts CEO Andrew Dreyfus will join the NGA and leaders from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the American Medical Association and Walgreens for a panel discussion on developing solutions to the opioid crisis.
“Because we have developed such deep ties in every community in America, we know firsthand the devastating toll addiction can have on neighborhoods and families,” said Scott Serota, president and CEO of BCBSA. “Many BCBS companies already have programs in place that are helping families and communities cope with this epidemic. We are committed to increasing national awareness of this problem and helping to develop solutions that can be implemented state by state and nationwide.”
At Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Dreyfus implemented a first-in-the-nation Prescription Pain Medication Safety Program to reduce the risk of addiction to opioid-based painkillers. The program, developed in partnership with a diverse group of physicians, pharmacists, pain management experts and addiction experts, promotes evidence-based opioid prescribing and strong collaboration between the health plan, doctors and patients.
“Over a three-year period, our program has reduced the risk of addiction and misuse of prescription painkillers while protecting vulnerable patients. At the same time, we have enhanced treatment programs that aid and sustain recovery from opiate use disorders,” Dreyfus said. “I’m looking forward to sharing the insights we’ve gained through our program and contributing to the national dialogue on this critical issue.”
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