(Reuters)—Health insurer Cigna Corp. has discontinued its policy of requiring doctors to seek authorization before treating opioid addicts, as part of a fight against an epidemic of opioid abuse, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said on Friday.
The policy change will apply nationally, says Schneiderman, who has been pushing for easier access to treatments for the estimated 2.2 million Americans who need treatment for abuse of heroin or prescription painkillers.
Preauthorization requirements can lead to significant delays in treatment, and other health insurers are encouraged to follow Cigna’s lead, Schneiderman says in a statement.1
Lawmakers around the country are seeking ways to stem the epidemic, which kills 78 Americans every day.
Fewer than half of addicts are receiving help, according to the U.S. Centers for Human and Health Services.
Cigna previously required doctors to submit a prior-approval form for medication-assisted treatment requests, answering questions about the patient’s current treatment and medical history.
This change was made to minimize the risk of illicit redistribution of drugs, but opponents argue that this approach has left the healthcare system unable to cope with the rising number of addicts.
- New York State Office of the Attorney General. News release: A.G. Schneiderman Announces National Settlement With Cigna To Discontinue Pre-Authorization For Opioid Addiction Treatment Drugs. 2016 Oct 21.