Wolf ends Medicaid pre-authorization for opioid medication

Written by The Associated Press | Mar 1, 2018 6:02 PM

Photo by AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File

In this March 11, 2013 file photo, Shavonne Bullock, a recovering heroin addict, holds a demonstration dose of the medication Suboxone during an appointment at the West Division Family Health Center in Chicago. Each dose is incorporated on a dissolvable film, which is placed below the tongue where is dissolves and is absorbed into the bloodstream. Suboxone helps suppress withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings for people recovering from addiction to opioid drugs.

(Harrisburg) -- Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's administration says it is ending a pre-authorization requirement for Medicaid recipients to receive coverage for medication they are prescribed to help treat opioid addiction.

The administration said Thursday that waiving the requirement could cut out waits of up to 24 hours to authorize coverage of medication-assisted treatments that help block the effects of withdrawal or prevent users from experiencing a high.

Medications such as Vivitrol are often prescribed while a patient gets therapy or counseling. Treatment advocates have pushed for such a step, and Wolf's administration says it'll ask private insurers to consider making a similar change.

The announcement comes halfway through a three-month public health emergency declaration, which allows government officials to temporarily suspend some regulations to help fight Pennsylvania's opioid epidemic.

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