QUINCY – During a visit to A New Way Recovery Center hosted by Bay State Community Services in Quincy today, Governor Baker highlighted efforts to combat the opioid epidemic and the administration’s second major bill, known as the CARE Act, that is currently before the Legislature. The CARE Act will increase access to treatment and recovery services, including the use of recovery coaching to maintain long-term recovery, and will strengthen the state’s opioid education and prevention strategies.
“Our administration’s comprehensive approach to address the opioid crisis has helped us make some progress to reduce overdose deaths, but there is much more work to be done,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Building on our first bill, the CARE Act will allow for the Commonwealth to continue combatting the opioid epidemic by expanding access to treatment and employing effective strategies like the use of more recovery coaches.”
“The CARE Act is potentially life-saving legislation that will broaden pathways to treatment for individuals living with substance use disorder and further support their families and loved ones affected by this deadly disease,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito.
Since the 2015 STEP Act legislation was passed, Massachusetts has achieved steady results in addressing the opioid crisis, including the first reduction in opioid-related overdose deaths in five years. The landmark legislation enacted first in the nation limits on opioid prescriptions, required more stringent prescription monitoring, broadened core competencies in substance use training and treatment in graduate programs and expanded access to overdose reversal medication and substance use treatment.
“The CARE Act develops standards for a professionalized workforce of recovery coaches with appropriate practical and ethical training, in addition to lived experience, that will increase our efforts to help individuals with addictions accept treatment,” said Executive Office of Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. “Time and time again we have heard from individuals that recovery coaches were instrumental in getting them into treatment and helping them achieve long-term, sustained recovery.”
Currently, the Department of Public Health (DPH) funds recovery coaches in 11 hospital Emergency Departments to make referrals and connections to treatment and recovery support services in the community. Between January 2017 and April 2018, 4,295 sessions with recovery coaches occurred with 3,840 resulting in a referral to community services. In July 2018, MassHealth will introduce recovery coaches for its members and anticipates spending over $38 million on these support services over the next five years.
A New Way Recovery Center, a DPH-funded program, provides recovery coaching, including the HEART Program (Hospital Emergency Action Recovery Team). The HEART Program has been offering recovery coaching services since 2016 and deploys coaches on a 24/7 basis to South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, Quincy Medical Center and Carney Hospital in Boston, to serve individuals with substance use disorder (SUD) in emergency departments. Currently, the program’s 10 recovery coaches at the 3 hospitals are averaging 150 requests a month. Some 95 percent of the individuals who received coaching received a referral to recovery centers, substance use treatment facilities and other community-based resources.
“We are proud to be part of this administration’s innovative approach to addressing the opioid epidemic,” said Daurice Cox, Psy.D, CAS, chief executive officer of Bay State Community Services. “We are fully committed to supporting individuals and families impacted by Substance Use Disorders. We support All Paths to Recovery by providing peer recovery services and support services as well as numerous clinical services.”
The Baker-Polito Administration has doubled spending to address the opioid crisis and added more than 1,200 treatment beds, including 768 adult substance use treatment beds at different treatment levels, and certified more than 168 Sober Homes accounting for an additional 2,242 beds. Just last month, Massachusetts received an $11.7 million federal grant to continue its public health response to the opioid epidemic and bolster community overdose prevention, outpatient opioid treatment, and recovery services across the Commonwealth. It is the second consecutive year the state has received the funding, bringing the two-year total to $23.8 million.
In response to the landmark Chapter 55 report which identified several populations that are at higher risk for SUDs, the Administration dedicated a portion of the federal funding to specifically target these groups. Investments include:
Additional programmatic accomplishments include:
Additionally, through administrative action, the Baker-Polito Administration will invest up to $219 million over five years from the state’s 1115 Medicaid waiver, which began in fiscal year 2018, to meet the needs of individuals with addictions and/or co-occurring disorders. These funds will expand residential recovery services, increase access to medication-assisted treatment, add new recovery coaches and navigators, and implement a consistent clinical assessment tool throughout the treatment system.
For more information on the Commonwealth’s response to the opioid epidemic as well as links to the latest data, visit www.mass.gov/opioidresponse. To get help for a substance use disorder, visit www.helplinema.org or call the Massachusetts Substance Use Helpline at (800) 327-5050.