August 15, 2022
The new contracts will expand options and access to care for MAP members
AUSTIN – In a continued effort to address the opioid epidemic in Central Texas, Central Health signed a new contract to begin offering methadone treatment services for substance use disorder.
According to the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office Annual Report, drugs were the leading cause of accidental deaths in Travis County in 2021. The Travis County Commissioners Court subsequently declared the opioid epidemic a public health crisis earlier this year.
Methadone is one treatment used as a medication-assisted therapy (MAT) for opioid addiction. The new contracts create additional access and capacity for Medical Access Program, or MAP, patients, without supplanting other federal, state and local funding sources. MAP and MAP Basic are Central Health programs that cover medical care for Travis County residents with low income and without insurance.
Central Health has existing contracts with providers for its MAT suboxone program, however clinical data shows individuals who suffer from a substance use disorder have an increased chance to succeed in their health when they have access to both treatment options.
“Methadone and suboxone have different pharmacology – they work differently and can affect individuals differently. Some patients respond better to one than the other or need to transition from one to the other,” Dr. Alan Schalscha, Central Health Chief Medical Officer said.
The contract with Community Medical Services (CMS) totals $100,000 for the remainder of the current fiscal year and provides methadone treatment for 15 MAP patients per month. The contracts will expand next fiscal year, starting Oct. 1, to provide treatment for 50 MAP patients per month. Contracted services include initial and ongoing patient evaluation, administration of ongoing methadone treatments, behavioral health and/or group counseling, case management services, peer support activities, provider visits, and necessary tests and lab work. Central Health is pursuing a second contract with another provider for additional access.
Having the option for methadone treatment can also help with the transition of care as a patient moves out of a hospital setting and into their home or other living situation. MAP patients who had success with methadone treatment in a hospital were previously not able to continue them. Instead, they had to switch medications, which may not work as well, or might even revert to harmful alternatives, including opioids.
This contract is one of many initiatives included in Central Health’s Healthcare Equity Plan. The plan addresses many aspects of the healthcare system that disparately limit their target population’s access to high quality care. Through the Healthcare Equity Plan, Central Health is already expanding the MAT suboxone program within Central Health-affiliated CommUnityCare, with additional psychiatry support and a new MAT access point with Integral Care for MAP patients with more acute symptoms.
“Central Health’s goal is to provide an evidence-based approach to the resources our communities with low-income need, and to facilitate access to those resources,” Mike Geeslin, Central Health President & CEO said. “Adding methadone as an option for those suffering from the disease of substance use disorder helps ensure they don’t get lost in the system, and that they can continue receiving much-needed care. It’s an important step in advancing their health and well-being.”
The Healthcare Equity Plan consists of four strategic imperatives: access and capacity, care coordination, MAP member enrollment and engagement, and system of care infrastructure. For more information about the HEP, visit centralhealth.net/our-work.
For more information about MAP, visit centralhealth.net/map.