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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 opioid-related overdoses suspected 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 entitled, “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,” Hunter said. “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 partnering in launching a community-wide public awareness effort in 2013 called “PainKillers Kill” (This website is home to the campaign.) 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.

As the region’s largest health plan, BlueCross BlueShield 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 available to the community include:

Erie County Medication Disposal Sites
Educator Resources
Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services
Horizon Health Services

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

About BlueCross BlueShield of WNY
BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York is a division of HealthNow New York Inc., an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. Since 1936, BlueShield has helped millions of people lead healthier lives. BlueShield offers a full range of insured, self-insured, and government programs and services covering businesses, families, and individuals, as well as life and disability coverage, dental and vision plans and stop-loss coverage. As a community-based, not-for-profit health plan, BlueCross BlueShield contributes significantly to organizations that strengthen and enrich the health of our community.

For up-to-date news, facts, and information about the company, leadership, and industry, please visit the BlueCross BlueShield News Center at bcbswny.com/news or follow us on Twitter.

About Point of Health Audiocast
Launched in December of 2016, the Point of Health audiocast series keeps listeners updated on key topics and issues in the rapidly changing health care industry. Editions are posted bi-monthly and feature an interview with experts on health insurance and health care, covering a variety of perspectives and information.