Like other states in the nation, California providers and policymakers continue to seek ways to curb the ongoing opioid crisis. Several new developments in the state hope to reduce addiction and protect patients.
Medical Schools Increase Addiction Training
Last year, University of California San Francisco’s School of Medicine launched a one-year fellowship in addiction medicine as an effort to get to the root of the opioid crisis. This is the first such fellowship among the University of California medical schools. Funded by the city and county, San Francisco’s program provides further training to medical students.
Traditionally, addiction training has been reserved for students of psychiatry. As more primary-care patients show symptoms related to drug addiction, however, it is becoming a wider concern among other specialties. The number of people in California who die annually from overdoses of prescription or illegal opioids has hovered at 1,900-2,000 for the last five years. However, the number of deaths from fentanyl, a powerful and illegally produced opioid, tripled between 2013 and 2017.
New Training for Addiction Professionals
The California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals (CCAPP) now offers coursework for addiction professionals looking to become Certified Alcohol and Drug Treatment Executives (CTE). The first training will take place in Sacramento.
Executives in the addiction treatment field will receive education and development related to management, including consumer protection and networking. As more California residents seek treatment for drug addiction, there is a greater need for training and standardization among addiction treatment managers CCAPP CEO Pete Nielsen says.
Protection for Addiction Treatment Consumers
The California State Senate recently approved a bill intended to protect patients receiving treatment for kidney disease and addiction. Passage of the Affordable Care Act prevented consumers from being denied health coverage because of preexisting conditions, but that has also led to an increase in high-cost insurance schemes from for-profit businesses. Some providers have enrolled patients in commercial coverage with high reimbursement rates for services, which brings higher out-of-pocket costs.
The bill, SB 1156, would ensure that provider-funded organizations follow disclosure requirements that inform consumers if better options, such as Medicaid, are available to them. The California State Assembly will now consider the bill for passage.
CDPH Issues Standing Order for Naloxone
Last week, the California Department of Public Health issued a statewide standing order for naloxone, the opioid overdose antidote. This order from agency Director Dr. Karen Smith allows all state organizations focused on managing drug addiction to distribute naloxone to patients without an individual prescription. Such organizations include rehabilitation facilities and needle exchange programs.
California pharmacists are authorized to make naloxone available without a prescription, and many addiction-related nonprofits groups administer naloxone under an individual physician’s standing order. However, many rural areas have shortages of physicians or treatment facilities able to obtain a prescription for naloxone. Under the order, Smith serves as the prescribing physician. The order does not include payment for naloxone, which may be purchased privately by nonprofits or received through public health departments at $20-70 per dose.