Health insurance hurdles can hinder access to opioid addiction meds

Posted: Updated:
WOODBURY -

Insurance companies are reportedly making it harder for opioid users to get their hands on a key medication that helps to treat addiction.

Joseph Cavallo, of Ronkonkoma, was hooked on heroin for years and has now been clean for three of them. He calls the journey hard, saying he tried medication-assisted therapies like Suboxone to get sober. But he says he encountered issues because the form he was taking was no longer covered by insurance.

A new study shows that Medicare Part D has made it harder to treat opioid addiction. In 2007, nearly 90 percent of Medicare plans offered buprenorphine -- a component of Suboxone --  without restriction, but that number shrank to 35 percent by 2018.

Steve Chassman, of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, says it's a critical time to not have these medications.

"It seems somewhat ironic or conflictual that the insurance companies are making them less and less widely available," he says.

News 12 reached out to Medicare for comment but was told this is a complicated issue and that more time is needed to provide a statement.

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