Removing Access Barriers! Major Insurer Announces End to Treatment Preauthorization Requirements

Global health insurer Cigna has ended a previous policy requiring prior authorization for medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder. The change was prompted by concerns expressed by the New York Attorney General’s office over barriers to effective treatment caused by such preauthorization requirements, according to a press release from the Attorney General’s office issued last week. The policy change announced by Cigna will apply to members nationwide, and not just in New York State, the announcement stated. Attorney General Eric Schneidermann was quoted, “I applaud Cigna for taking this action. Other health insurers should take notice of Cigna’s actions to remove access barriers to treat opioid dependency and I encourage those insurers to follow suit.”

MAT medications include buprenorphine and naloxone which, unlike methadone therapy, can be prescribed by any physician who is certified and issued a DEA license. Recommended components of MAT for opioid dependency additionally include psychosocial therapy and management of other medical issues. Buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist, can enable dependent individuals to discontinue opioid use without experiencing symptoms of withdrawal. Naloxone can be added to buprenorphine to decrease the incidence of diversion and misuse of the combined product. The Centers for Disease Control considers MAT a proven and effective treatment for patients with opioid use disorder. 

Read a press release from the office of the New York Attorney General here.

 

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