New Year to bring streamlined plan for helping pregnant women break addiction

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    With opioid addiction rates at record levels, Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services is launching a statewide program that targets pregnant women with substance use issues to better connect them with recovery resources.

    David Kelly, Chief Officer of Pennsylvania’s Medical Assistance Office, says the goal is to get expecting moms who are addicted to heroin into treatment and sober more quickly.”We’re not massively expanding programs. We’re basically asking our managed care plans to make sure that women get screened for substance abuse disorder and have the ability to try several options for treatment,” he said. The program will support the use of subutex for opioid addiction. It will be offered by 20 healthcare providers across the state that have both a high volume of deliveries and substance abuse cases.

    Researchers who have studied this program during the pilot stage say the use of subutex during pregnancy brings better results for newborns than offering methadone. Moms and babies also require fewer hospitalizations.

    John Lovelace oversaw the pilot program at a hospital that’s part of the University of Pittsburgh’s Medical Center. He says programs that encourage fewer hospital visits makes  sense for families, and might saves providers money:

     “Hospitalizations run $7,000 [to] $9,000. So avoiding one of those is better for the mom, and better financially for us,” he said.

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