CareSource: Member opioid use down 40 percent in 18 months

The largest Medicaid plan in Ohio reported its members are using 40 percent fewer opioids in the last 18 months.

Dayton-based CareSource, which privately manages 1.8 million Medicaid plans, said in a release that by the end of this year CareSource will cut that amount by 50 percent.

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The decline in CareSource members being prescribed opioids comes at a time when regulations on opioid prescribing are tightening in the wake of opioid overdose epidemic, which is tied to the overuse of the prescription painkillers.

Ohio Board of Pharmacy reported there the number of opioid doses dispensed in the state in 2017 was down 30 percent from 2012 — meaning about 225 million fewer doses were dispensed to Ohio patients in 2017 compared to 2012.

Nationally, Medicaid members are more than twice as likely to receive opioid prescriptions as non-Medicaid members and at a higher risk of opioid-related death.

CareSource stated that in 2016 it started a program to notify providers who are prescribing high amounts of opioids to members.

“We know that helping members get on a path to recovery and self-sufficiency leads to better outcomes,” stated Jonas Thom, vice president of behavioral health at CareSource.

Using claims data, CareSource can identify members at risk for substance use disorder, diversion, overdose and alert providers.

CareSource analyzed the number of pills, dosing schedules and strength of what was being prescribed to its policy holders.

CareSource also sends letters to prescribers showing how their prescribing compares to their peers.

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CareSource also highlighted other efforts like transportation to recovery services, decreased long-term opioid prescriptions and case management to address other barriers like child care and employment.

CareSource stated this year it will also begin monitoring teenagers and young adults for opioid risk.

“We have certainly had a meaningful impact on our members’ lives and the opioid crisis through our targeted programs, but there is more to be done,” Thom stated.

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