CHICAGO — With drug overdose deaths reaching record numbers, the American Medical Association (AMA) and Manatt Health released a toolkit today to guide states on removing barriers to evidence-based patient care.

Stakeholders in every state can use this new resource with legislators, regulators and other officials to pursue policies that are working to help patients. States have taken myriad approaches to expand treatment for patients with a substance use disorder, and the toolkit provides evidence and feedback on what’s working where and why.

Manatt and the AMA are holding a webinar on the toolkit today at 1 p.m. Eastern.

“We are at a pivotal moment. Overdoses are an epidemic within a COVID-19 pandemic. The health care system is under considerable strain. We have to focus on what is working, and states have become laboratories of public policy. With money coming in from opioid litigation settlements, there is an opportunity to expand the policy options to help our patients,” said Bobby Mukkamala, M.D., chair of the AMA Board of Trustees and chair of the AMA Task Force on the Overdose Epidemic.

To ensure access to evidence-based treatment, the toolkit recommends states expand treatment of opioid use disorder in Medicaid and commercial insurance and remove barriers, such as prior authorization and other utilization management policies. Additionally, treatment must address disparities and the needs of all patients equitably, including vulnerable populations.

The toolkit also highlights the importance of enforcing laws on mental health and substance use disorder parity, telehealth, and access to the full continuum of pain care options. States have taken several approaches to making naloxone, the overdose reversing drug, more affordable and available. The AMA and Manatt Health released a national policy roadmap in December 2020 with detailed recommendations for policymakers to take action.

“Our extensive toolkit demonstrates that states are engaged and making progress on multiple fronts in battling the drug overdose epidemic,” said Joel Ario, a managing director at Manatt and former state insurance commissioner. “Yet the death count continues to rise, making it imperative that legislators and regulators in every state learn from each other and double down on the strategies – from coverage mandates to naloxone distribution – that have proven effective in saving lives.”

Download a copy of the tookit here.

Editor’s note: The AMA convened more than 25 national, state, specialty and other health care associations in 2014 to form the AMA Substance Use and Pain Care Task Force to coordinate efforts within organized medicine to help end the nation’s opioid epidemic. Additional information on the task force is available here. Real-time updates on the AMA’s work on opioids is accessible here.

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The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care.  The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crises and, driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care.