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Letter: Prevention is best way to fight opiate epidemic

Prevention is best way to fight opiate epidemic

News out of Washington that the U.S. Senate killed $600 million to aid cities and individuals suffering from the opiate epidemic is indeed frustrating. But we must not give up.

We at BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, along with our 54 community partners, have worked on addressing this fatal problem for more than three years. As a community-based health plan, we strongly believe prevention is the most important step in combatting this epidemic. To that end, we partner with the Erie County Opiate Epidemic Task Force to increase public awareness and continue to provide community resources through painkillerskill.org and social media channels.

We also believe physicians and treatment providers need to have the most appropriate resources to support individuals throughout their recovery.

BlueCross BlueShield partners with and reimburses local treatment centers, including every suboxone and methadone provider in the region. Through these partnerships, our members have access to important treatment medications, without any prior-authorization or review.

In July 2015, BlueCross BlueShield implemented a state-passed package signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that set new guidelines and criteria for the most appropriate level of care for substance abuse. However, long waiting lists and bed shortages sometimes prohibit our members from accessing the treatment they need.

Despite the Senate’s unfortunate decision, we applaud Sen. Charles Schumer’s leadership in supporting increased resources to combat this epidemic, which touches every pocket of our community.

Donald R. Ingalls

Vice President

State and Federal Relations

BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York