As the opioid epidemic continues to devastate the nation, Blue Cross Blue Shield is working to help combat the issue with a new prescription drug policy as well as an initiative that will provide industry-leading data to experts to help them better understand the addiction trends and expand awareness.
Blue Cross currently provides funding for the WNED TV documentary, Understanding the Opioid Epidemic, which premiered in January of this year. Addressing the issues, signs, and treatment options for opioid addiction, the documentary shares personal stories of those that have been impacted by the crisis, and also includes interviews with experts.
In addition, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama and Michigan recently announced a prescription policy change which includes restrictions on short and long-acting pain-killers. BCBS of Michigan’s policy change took effect February 1st of this year with Alabama’s expected to take effect on April 1st. The policy changes do not affect those with cancer or those currently receiving opioids. BCBS of Michigan’s policy limits patients who have new short-acting opioid prescriptions to a five-day supply for their first fill and subsequent prescriptions and refills will be limited to a 30-day supply. BCBS of Alabama’s policy is similar, limiting first-time prescriptions for short-acting opioids to a seven-day supply and refills require prior authorization from their doctor. BCBS of Alabama’s policy will also require a prior authorization for all first-time prescriptions for long-acting opioids, and provide Naloxone, an antidote for an opioid overdose, to most member for a generic copay. These decisions were made based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s opioid prescribing guidelines published in 2016. Both Michigan and Alabama have high overdose rates, with Alabama having the most opioid drugs prescribed per capita in 2015 and 2016.
Through the documentary, data sharing, and updated policies, Blue Cross Blue Shield hopes to help combat the opioid epidemic as well as spread awareness about the dangers of addiction.
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