Beacon Health Options Inks Innovative Value-Based Contract with Column Health to Expand Access to Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder in Massachusetts

BOSTON – Beacon Health Options (Beacon), a national leader in behavioral health management, announced that it has signed an innovative contract with Column Health, a new technology-enabled health care company, to expand access to Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) in Massachusetts. The cornerstone of the contract is a value-based bundled payment structure that promotes high-quality treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD), resulting in positive clinical outcomes and reduced administrative burdens for the provider. The bundled payment structure is based on phases of treatment for patients, which creates a continuum of care.

Opioids are a class of drugs that include heroin as well as the licit prescription pain relievers oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl and others. MAT combines the use of behavioral therapy with medications, such as methadone and buprenorphine, to treat OUD.

Although the data is preliminary, according to a June 5, 2017 article in The New York Times, the best estimate regarding deaths due to drug overdose in 2016 is that, nationwide, it rose 19 percent over the previous year. All evidence suggests the problem is worsening in 2017. According to a Massachusetts Department of Public Health first-quarter report on opioid-related deaths, such deaths have increased by almost 21 percent, from 1,651 in 2015, to 1,993 in 2016. In the first quarter of 2017, there have been 172 confirmed opioid overdose deaths, plus an additional 242 to 307 that have not been confirmed.

“Offering evidence-based treatment to every person with opioid use disorder is central to the Beacon Health Options strategy for combating this epidemic. Our association with Column Health expands our capacity to engage and retain members in a proven, effective treatment program that offers multiple options for medically assisted treatment combined with other recovery services,” said Dr. James Thatcher, Medical Director for Beacon Health Options’ Northeast Region. “Its programs in Metro Boston communities show impressive outcomes and provide timely access to services. We look forward to working with Column Health to deliver a quality continuum of immediate, long-term care for our recovering members.”

The chronic care model and the use of bundled value-based payments were promoted in Beacon’s 2015 white paper, Confronting the Crisis of Opioid Addiction. This type of payment structure discourages fee-for-service, episodic care that has a high relapse rate and is known for increased mortality.

“We’ve seen the disease of addiction reach epidemic levels, impacting every community and every demographic,” said Colin Beatty, CEO and founder of Column Health. “Our Column Health team, together with our partners at Beacon Health Options, are making incredible progress helping the most vulnerable people in our state and soon across the country to grapple with this disease. I couldn’t think of a team better equipped and more aligned than Beacon to help us tackle the epidemic and move the industry to outcomes-driven, value-based models of care.”

About Column Health

Column Health is a new technology-enabled healthcare company that has developed an innovative model of treatment for full recovery from addiction and substance use disorders. It has a rapidly expanding network of outpatient mental health clinics focused on innovative and humane treatment that provides outcomes-focused treatment for patients struggling with the disease of addiction. Column Health offers a full suite of mental health and substance use treatment-related services, including Medication-Assisted Recovery Treatment, psychotherapy, integrated lab testing, detoxification, and medication management in technology-enabled, state-of-the-art medical clinic settings. By integrating a more comprehensive range of care needed to properly treat mental illness, Column Health is able to provide convenience and care coordination for patients seeking a full range of care and facilitate improved effectiveness of the program.