Anthem drops preauthorization for opioid addiction treatment

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman negotiated a national settlement with Indianapolis-based Anthem to end preauthorization for medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder.

The decision follows a similar agreement between the attorney general and Bloomfield, Conn.-based Cigna, and resolves an investigation of preauthorization practices for medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction. The investigation found Anthem's affiliated Empire BlueCross BlueShield plan in New York denied about 8 percent of requests for coverage of the treatment in 2015 and the first half of last year. Attorney General Schneiderman said the denials created significant access problems for patients.

"We're facing an opioid crisis in New York and around the country — and we should be doing whatever we can to make lifesaving treatments accessible to those suffering from addiction," Attorney General Schneiderman said. "We're committed to continue working with health insurers across the country to eliminate barriers to lifesaving opioid addiction treatments."

As a part of the agreement, Empire BCBS — which has more than 4 million policyholders — will conduct provider outreach and education about prescribing the medication-assisted treatment.  

More articles on payer issues:
BCBS: Member visits to retail health clinics doubled over past 5 years
Anthem aims for 30% reduction in number of opioid prescriptions by 2019
12 health insurers in the headlines

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