The Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Commission – created through Chapter 208 of the Acts of 2018, the so-called CARE Act – has completed its mandated report to the legislature on how MAT for opioid use disorder is currently being employed in Massachusetts and how its use can be expanded.
Medication assisted treatment is the use of medications, often in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, for the treatment of substance use disorders. The three most commonly used medications used to treat opioid addiction are methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone.
In addition to creating the MAT Commission, Chapter 208 also requires acute care hospitals that provide emergency services to have the capacity to initiate opioid agonist therapy (namely buprenorphine) to patients that present after an opioid-related overdose. The patient must also be directly connected to continuing treatment prior to discharge. In 2018, MHA formed its own workgroup to develop guidelines for the use of buprenorphine within emergency departments. MHA’s guidelines (which are currently being updated) are cited in the state commission’s report.
MHA’s Director of Behavioral Health & Healthcare Policy Leigh Simons Youmans, who had a seat on the MAT Commission, said the state’s report adds an important piece to the multi-pronged strategy to combat the opioid scourge.
“There are many recommendations that the hospital community can get behind from supporting technical assistance for EDs providing MAT, to encouraging the establishment of on-demand treatment and referral services,” Youmans said. “Another creative suggestion involves creating loan forgiveness and repayment programs for clinicians-in-training specifically working in MAT, who also work in high-need areas with underserved populations.”