The Trump administration has launched a smart new salvo in the public health offensive against the opioid epidemic.
Addiction to these prescription painkillers and related street drugs continues to wreak havoc in communities across the nation. Last week, the White House announced the launch of a new website that will make it easier to find specialized medical care close to home.
This confidential, easy-to-use resource has a name succinctly summing up its mission — FindTreatment.gov. It also allows individuals to customize their search results beyond location, a feature that existing “find a substance abuse provider” websites often don’t offer.
For example, those struggling with opioid addiction may desire “medication-assisted treatment.” This approach utilizes medications such as methadone, buprenorphine or naltrexone to block or control withdrawal symptoms.
While effective, it can be hard to find medication-assisted treatment. But with a click, those who go to FindTreatment.gov can narrow their search beyond location to find clinics offering patients this option.
There are other ways to customize results. Those seeking help can find providers accepting patients relying on Medicaid, the government-run medical assistance program, or clinics that offer no-cost care.
Families can also find treatment centers for those 18 and younger. Veterans can search for clinics with expertise in treating returning military men or women. Those who want programs tailored for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patients can also find specialized treatment on this site.
FindTreatment.gov deserves praise in particular for including information about the nation’s “mental health parity” law, which was passed in 2008 and championed by former U.S. Rep. Jim Ramstad, a Minnesota Republican, as well as the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, a Democrat.
The parity law requires insurers to provide equal levels of coverage for physical and mental illness. “That means your insurance company can’t tell you ‘we don’t do substance abuse treatment’ or ‘mental health isn’t covered.’ If they do this, they’re breaking the law,’’ the website advises. Guidance to report and resolve this is provided for those who unfortunately run into this hurdle.
There’s no panacea for the nation’s opioid epidemic. Instead, innovation is imperative on multiple fronts. FindTreatment.gov is a timely example of a compassionate, pragmatic step forward.