LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Responding to the frustrations many Californians face when trying to access care for the treatment of drug and alcohol problems, a new not-for-profit foundation launched today intent on changing the playing field.
Created by concerned California-based accredited providers who recognize that “only through action and advocacy can change occur,” the new California Treatment Advocacy Foundation (CalTAF) is dedicated to improving access to effective and affordable treatment of substance use disorders. Advocating for insurance reform, either voluntary or mandated, CalTAF’s goal is to remove the barriers to care that exist so that individuals can get immediate and affordable access to the treatment prescribed by their physician.
“Today many working families with health insurance are unable to access lifesaving substance use disorder (SUD) treatment because of unreasonable care guidelines imposed by their health plans,” said Phillip Greer, executive vice president of CalTAF. “Many of these health plans have deliberately created barriers to the treatment envisioned by the Addiction Equity Act. They have developed care guidelines that contradict established national standards of medical care.”
“Substance abuse care guidelines are the dirty little secret of the health plans,” Greer continues. “They are being used to ration care. It is the same as telling your doctor to try to remove half of your ruptured gall bladder to see if that cures it.”
Greer says that by serving as a much-needed voice for patients, families and providers, CalTAF will push health plans to follow the full letter and spirit of the Wellstone Dominici Addiction Equity Act. This includes ready access to medically prescribed and supervised SUD treatment using guidelines established as national standards of care by the medical profession.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2007 alone 764,000 Californians didn’t receive needed treatment for drug abuse, and 2.3 million Californians needed but didn’t receive treatment for alcoholism. “When people are unable to access the substance abuse treatment they need, the health and wellness of whole families are jeopardized; and the unnecessary costs to society ripple across America’s communities, schools, businesses and healthcare delivery systems,” says Greer. “All individuals should have access to the right treatment, in the right setting, at the right time.”
Substance addiction does not discriminate and could happen to anyone regardless of age, sex, race, financial or social status or religion. The aging of baby boomers and the return of our veterans make the work of CalTAF even more critical and timely.
According to a recent study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an estimated 4.3 million American adults ages 50 and older (or 4.7 percent of this population) have abused an illicit substance in the past year. SAMHSA has predicted that the increase in substance abuse among this population will require the doubling of substance abuse treatment services for older adults by the year 2020 in order for this generation to be accommodated.
In addition, a number of studies of military personnel deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have found a strong connection between alcohol and drug use and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A 2008 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that deployed service members who were exposed to combat situations were at greater risk for binge drinking, and those with PTSD or depression were more likely to have developed or experience continued alcohol-related problems. Similar findings have been reported among Vietnam and 1991 Gulf War veterans.
“The challenges we face are only going to grow unless we bring about change to the system beginning now,” says Greer. “We know that the chances of someone quitting drugs or alcohol on their own without proper medical supervision are very slim. This is a major societal challenge, and health plans need to fulfill their moral and contracted obligations or else we as a society have failed.”
The positions being advocated by CalTAF are consistent with those of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the California Society of Addiction Medicine and other similarly respected organizations throughout the country.
Further information on the work of CalTAF may be obtained by calling 855-254-5222.
for California Treatment Advocacy Foundation
KEYWORDS: United States North America California
INDUSTRY KEYWORDS: Health Mental Health Other Health Professional Services Insurance General Health Managed Care