This year has seen a lot of significant developments in behavioral health and addiction treatment. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest stories that made headlines across the nation in 2019.
Multiple Opioid Lawsuit Results
In August 2019, an Oklahoma judge ruled that consumer healthcare company Johnson & Johnson helped encourage the state’s opioid crisis. Although the company was originally ordered to pay $572 million, a state district judge reduced that to a one-time payment of $465 million. However, an appeal filed in December 2019 argues that this amount is not enough to cover the state’s opioid abatement plan.
In October, pharmaceutical firm Teva and drug distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson all settled with Ohio’s Cuyahoga and Summit counties in a lawsuit that alleged the companies recklessly prescribed and distributed opioid medications. Before the $260 million settlement, the lawsuit was widely expected to influence the results of more than 2,000 other opioid-related suits.
Concerns About Vaping and Tobacco Increase
Vaping and tobacco use received a lot of news coverage this year. Part of that coverage involved lawsuits against e-cigarette company JUUL Labs Inc., accusing the firm of deliberately targeting minors. In the fall, several cases of lung injuries associated with the use of vaping products were reported to the CDC.
Finally, on December 20, President Donald Trump signed a $1.4 trillion spending package that raised the federal legal age for purchasing tobacco from 18 to 21. The law, which includes the purchase of e-cigarettes and vaping cartridge, will take effect summer 2020.
FDA Approved Controversial New Depression Treatment
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in March 2019 approved Spravato (esketamine) nasal spray, in conjunction with oral antidepressant, for treating depression in adults for whom other antidepressant medicines have been ineffective. Critics of esketamine have argued that, due to its similarities to ketamine, the medication has a high potential for abuse. Currently the treatment is highly restricted under a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy.
Mental Health Coverage Remains Limited Nationally
Research shows that more Americans are having difficulty finding affordable behavioral health treatment, although under a 2008 law, insurers are required to provide equal access for mental and physical health care. The limited affordability of behavioral healthcare accompanies rising rates of addiction, suicide, depression, and anxiety. This year, consulting company Milliman reported that patients are more likely to use out-of-network providers for behavioral health or substance abuse treatment than for other conditions.
NAATP Releases New Guidebook for Addiction Treatment Providers
This year, the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) released The Addiction Treatment Provider Quality Assurance Guidebook: A Guide to the Core Competencies for the Delivery of Addiction Treatment Services. This Guidebook is part of the association’s efforts to protect addiction treatment consumers and improve addiction treatment quality. In case you missed it, we covered the new guidebook in more detail earlier in the BestNotes blog.
Happy new year from BestNotes!
Is your behavioral health and addiction treatment practice prepared for 2020? Whether you’re looking to switch EHR systems or implement EHR software for the first time, BestNotes is prepared to help you every step of the way. Contact us today to learn more about how to make 2020 your practice’s best year yet!