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Addressing the Ongoing Opiod Epidemic

March 20, 2017

New BlueCross BlueShield Free Audiocast discusses combating opioid abuse from a health plan’s perspective

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, prescription painkillers and heroin are claiming the lives of 91 Americans every day. Despite significant community-wide efforts, Western New York is also struggling, with over 70 lives suspected to be claimed since the beginning of 2017.

To help increase awareness of the issue, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York today released episode four of the Point of Health Audiocast, Addressing the Opioid Epidemic from a Health Plan Perspective.”

Patricia Hunter, behavioral health manager, explains the factors driving the epidemic, how it can be addressed, and resources that are available to individuals and families who are suffering from addiction.

“Every facet of our community needs to come to the table to acknowledge this problem and have honest, open and difficult discussions about how to get in front of it,” said Hunter. “We have a lot of people downstream pulling people out of the river, but they keep passing by and more and more are jumping in.”

BlueCross BlueShield has taken a leadership role in fighting the epidemic since launching a community-wide public awareness effort in 2013 called “PainKillers Kill.” The health plan has made significant policy changes including removing preauthorization for all medically assisted therapies, reducing first-fill opioid prescriptions, and developing a robust care management program to help members find care within a recommended treatment plan.

The region’s largest health plan continues to work collaboratively with community stakeholders to develop new pathways and resources, including the Erie County Opiate Task Force and the new Save the Michaels “House of Hope” program. Other resources that are available to the community include:

Educator Resources

To listen to this episode, as well as past and future free episodes visit Future episodes will be posted bi-monthly.