HHS Assesses Impact of Parity in Large Group Employer-Sponsored Insurance Market
The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) of 2008 had a “significant positive impact” on the frequency of outpatient services for both mental health and substance use disorder (SUD), HHS reported this week in Assessing the Impact of Parity in the Large Group Employer-Sponsored Insurance Market.
The 111-page report from the department’s assistant secretary for planning and evaluation office of disability, aging, and long-term care policy defined frequency as the average number of outpatient services used per service user. HHS concluded the magnitude of the law’s impact on SUD outpatient services was about 10 times larger than the magnitude for mental health outpatient services.
Meanwhile, the analysis found that while the 2008 law had a positive and significant impact on average spending by the insurer (for both mental health and SUD outpatient services) and the enrollee (for SUD outpatient services), there was little impact on enrollee cost sharing and no impact on reimbursement rates to providers. The report also evaluated the findings in the context of the nation’s ongoing opioid crisis
“The impact of MHPAEA on utilization of SUD outpatient services was not due to the OUD (opioid use disorder) epidemic,” the study said. “MHPAEA affected both OUD and other non-OUD SUD diagnosis groups in a similar way, increasing confidence that the changes observed at the point of parity implementation were due to parity and not to the OUD crisis,” it continued. “However, we did observe a greater magnitude of impact of MHPAEA for OUD outpatient services, suggesting that the influx of individuals with OUD diagnoses during the same timeframe as parity implementation interacted to some extent.”
CMS Updates Data for the Inpatient Psychiatric Facility Quality Reporting Program
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Hospital Compare website this week added six new measures to the Inpatient Psychiatric Facility Quality Reporting Program (IPFQRP).
Hospital Compare reports information on about 100 quality measures for more than 4,000 hospitals nationwide, including Veterans Administration (VA) medical centers and Department of Defense (DoD) military hospitals.
For questions about the IPFQRP, please e-mail the Hospital Inpatient Value, Incentives, and Quality Reporting Outreach and Education Support contract team through the Questions and Answers tool or call either of these toll-free numbers on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. ET: 844-472-4477, or 866-800-8765.
VA Helps Veterans Manage Chronic Pain Without Opioids
The Veterans Affairs (VA) Department’s new virtual reality program is helping the nation’s veterans manage chronic pain without opioids.
The program provides veterans with different medical issues—including traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, stroke, amputations, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)—with an alternative to using drugs such as opioids. Instead, veterans use a virtual reality headset or a large monitor screen to experience virtual scenic settings with music and narration.
“Virtual reality is able to take the user someplace else they’d rather be,” Jamie Kaplan, a recreational therapist at the VA, said in a blog post. “For example, virtual games and activities can allow the wheelchair use to experience freedom from the limitations they face in everyday life.”
Click here to learn more about the VA’s Recreation Therapy Service.
JAMA Article Studies Geographical Distribution of Opioid-Related Mortality Nationwide
Opioid-related mortality—driven by the use of synthetic opioids—has increased rapidly in all of the nation’s eastern states, according to a new study in JAMA.
In an analysis of more than 350,000 U.S. residents who died from opioid-related causes, the age-standardized mortality rate from opioids increased more than two-fold every two years in 24 eastern states, reflecting an expansion from lower-income, rural states, the study found. Researchers examined deaths that involved any opioid, heroin, synthetic opioids, and natural and semisynthetic opioids.
“Our findings indicate that policies focused on reducing opioid-related deaths may need to prioritize synthetic opioids and rapidly expanding epidemics in northeastern states,” researchers noted in the study, “and consider the potential for synthetic opioid epidemics outside of the heroin supply.”
AAP Examines Nonmedical Prescription Opioid Use in Parents and Adolescents
Parent-based interventions targeted toward adolescent, nonmedical prescription opioid use should address parental nonmedical prescription opioid use and smoking, and promote positive parenting, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reported this week in the journal Pediatrics.
According to the AAP, this study is the first to examine intergenerational patterns of nonmedical prescription opioid use. Data came from 35,000 parent-child dyads with an adolescent between the ages of 12 and 17 between 2004 and 2012 from the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health.
Scientists found that associations between parental and adolescent nonmedical prescription opioid use did not differ by adolescent sex or race and/or ethnicity. However, parental lifetime smoking, low monitoring, and parent-adolescent conflict were “uniquely associated with adolescent nonmedical prescription opioid use, as were adolescent smoking, marijuana use, depression, delinquency, and perceived schoolmates’ drug use.”
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