How PA’s Virtual-first Center of Excellence is Bolstering OUD Care

How PA’s Virtual-first Center of Excellence is Bolstering OUD Care

The intensifying opioid epidemic has left in its wake significant loss, prompting public health stakeholders to redouble efforts to curb the crisis. A central aspect of these efforts is expanding access to medication-assisted treatment. In Pennsylvania, strategies to expand this access include offering virtual care access to lifesaving medications.In April, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services designated virtual addiction treatment provider Ophelia as an Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) Center of Excellence (COE), making it the inaugural virtual-first statewide COE.The nationwide OUD crisis has been ongoing for years, with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declaring the epidemic a public health emergency in 2017. The COVID-19 pandemic considerably worsened the problem, with opioid-involved overdose deaths rising from 49,860 in 2019 to 81,806 in 2022.

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Ophelia has been seeing patients in Pennsylvania since 2020. However, initially, the company had no health insurance contracts, so it had to charge patients cash prices, Gray said. While the company worked to get in-network with health plans in the state as quickly as possible, getting Medicaid contracts proved challenging.This posed a significant problem to Ophelia’s Pennsylvania operations, as 70 percent of the patients that Ophelia serves are insured under Medicaid. Thus, becoming a COE was critical for the company.

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