LaShannon Spencer, CHCA Chief Executive Officer
Seth Blomeley, CHCA Communications and Policy Director
LITTLE ROCK – With Arkansas, and the nation, in the grips of the opioid epidemic, Community Health Centers are meeting the challenge by offering Medication Assisted Treatment (or MAT for short) to those who truly wish to free themselves from the shackles of addiction.
Community Health Centers (CHCs) in recent weeks have embarked on a MAT program and hope to expand it to serving hundreds of patients within two years. MAT combines medication (to help wean patients off dangerous opioids) with addiction counseling and therapy (to help patients make the necessary lifestyle changes to keep them from relapse).
“MAT is an integrated treatment model that really fits what Community Health Centers are all about,” said Byron Montgomery, Director of Clinical Operations for Mainline Health Systems. “We have everything under one roof. Patients don’t have to worry about being stigmatized because as far as anyone will know, they could be coming to our clinic to treat a common cold. And, we’re going to see them regardless of whether they can pay or not. But they have to be totally engaged and completely dedicated to beating addiction.”
CHCs are uniquely positioned to provide MAT in Arkansas. To successfully complete the program, multiple visits for an extended period of time are required. These can be costly, especially if a patient doesn’t have insurance. And, many insurance plans limit the number of counseling visits. In part because of the financial obstacles, MAT has been slow to grow in Arkansas.
But CHCs are filling that gap. We offer high quality care and treatment. For those in financial need, we provide care on a sliding fee scale based on income.
If you think a CHC can help with your addiction recovery, we invite you to contact one of our CHCs offering MAT: Community Clinic (Fayetteville/Northwest AR), Mainline Health Systems (Dermott, Monticello, Star City/Southeast AR), and MidDelta Health Systems (Clarendon/AR Delta).
Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)
WHAT: Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) is an innovative way to treat substance use disorder, particularly those suffering from addiction to opioids, such as drugs prescribed for pain management.
WHERE: MAT is available at three Community Health Centers in Arkansas – Community Clinic (Fayetteville/Northwest AR), Mainline Health Systems (Dermott, Monticello and Star City/Southeast AR) and MidDelta Health Systems (Clarendon/AR Delta).
WHEN: First offered by Community Health Centers spring 2019.
WHO: A team of physicians, psychiatrists, APRNs, licensed clinical social workers, and others are coordinating the MAT programs at Community Health Centers to meet all of the needs of each patient.
WHY: Opioid addiction is a crippling disease in Arkansas and across the country. The best way to ensure a patient can free himself of dependency and reduce the chances of relapse is through MAT. It calls for a combination of prescription drugs (such as Naltrexone and Buprenorphine) to slowly wean someone off opioids and behavioral health therapy, such as visits to a clinical social worker and group therapy meetings, including Narcotics Anonymous.
TARGET: Regular appointments are required, month after month and sometimes for years until someone can be truly freed from the opioid grip. It requires dedication and work by patients. So, MAT isn’t for everyone, only those who truly want to get better and are willing to take the necessary steps.
COST: Community Health Centers accept private insurance as well as government-funded coverage, such as Medicaid and Medicare. As for all services at Community Health Centers, those without insurance aren’t turned away. They pay on a sliding scale based on their income. MAT may call for more visits than an insurance plan covers. In that case, a patient may apply to pay based on income.
NATIONAL: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, after a steady increase in the overall national opioid prescribing rate starting in 2006, the total number of prescriptions dispensed peaked in 2012 at more than 255 million and a prescribing rate of 81.3 prescriptions per 100 persons. The overall national opioid prescribing rate declined from 2012 to 2017, and in 2017, the prescribing rate had fallen to the lowest it had been in more than 10 years at 58.7 prescriptions per 100 persons (total of more than 191 million total opioid prescriptions).
ARKANSAS: In 2017, Arkansas had the second-highest opioid prescription rate in the country, with 105.4 per 100 persons (down from a high of 123.2 in 2015), second only to Alabama. Among Arkansas counties, Greene County posted the highest rate at 166.8.
Community Health Centers of Arkansas, Inc.
119 South Izard Street, Little Rock, AR 72201 501-374-8225 www.chc-ar.org