Commonwealth of Virginia Office of Governor Ralph Northam

Governor Ralph Northam announced Monday that Virginia’s
signature Medicaid initiative for addressing opioid addiction and other
substance use disorders has generated significant results in its first
year, increasing access to treatment and reducing the burden on hospital
emergency departments.

The Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) launched the
ARTS program in April 2017. The program expands access to residential
treatment for all Medicaid members, creates new care models combining
medication with counseling and other supports, and offers training and
financial incentives to increase provider participation.

“By expanding our network of providers who can treat addiction, Virginia’s
Addiction and Recovery Treatment Services (ARTS) program has given us new
tools to fight the opioid epidemic,” *said Governor Ralph Northam*. “If we
expand our Medicaid eligibility to cover up to 400,000 more Virginians, as
I have proposed, this initiative could save many more lives.”

“Nearly four in five drug overdose last year last year were caused by
prescription opioids, heroin and fentanyl,” *said* *Dr. Daniel Carey,
Secretary of Health and Human Resources*. “Individuals, families, and
communities across the Commonwealth are counting on us to implement
solutions like ARTS and bring them to scale in order reduce the human toll
from these addictive drugs.”

The Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine’s Department of
Health Behavior and Policy evaluated the results of the program’s first
nine months, from April through December 2017. Highlights include:

– 16,600 Medicaid members received treatment for substance use disorder,
a nearly two-thirds increase over the same nine months of the previous

– Of those, more than 10,500 members were treated for opioid addiction,
a 51 percent increase from the same period of 2016.

– The total number of prescriptions for opioid pain medications for
Medicaid members declined by nearly one third over the evaluation period.

– Hospital emergency department visits by Medicaid members due to opioid
use declined by nearly one third, to 3,100 in the nine-month study period
in 2017.

ARTS encompasses a variety of innovative strategies and new models of care
that have significantly increased treatment capacity. Virginia was the
fourth state to obtain permission from federal health officials to use
Medicaid funds for residential treatment facilities with more than 16 beds,
greatly increasing access to residential services. It is one of the first
states in the nation to fully integrate its substance use treatment
services into managed care plans along with physical and mental health

“Other states and national policymakers recognize the progress we are
making in Virginia to develop innovative treatment and recovery
solutions,” *said
Dr. Jennifer Lee, DMAS Director*. “The new treatment models developed
through the ARTS program are increasing access to services across the
Commonwealth. Just as important, these new models are grounded in
evidence-based practices that ensure the most effective care is available
for our citizens.”

The ARTS program strengthened qualifications for providers and increased
reimbursement rates for those who follow research-guided treatment
regimens. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Virginia
Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) offered
extensive training to providers interested in participating in the ARTS
program. The Virginia Department of Health Professions (DHP) assisted with
implementation of regulations based on national opioid prescribing

“Providers are responding to the critical need for addiction treatment,”
Dr. Katherine Neuhausen, Chief Medical Officer for DMAS*. “Today, more than
350 new organizations are providing these life-saving services to Virginia
Medicaid members. The number of outpatient opioid treatment services has
increased from six to 108, including 79 office-based opioid treatment
programs combining medication with counseling and other essential supports.”