Cigna drops pre-authorizations for anti-opioid addiction medications

Bloomfield, Conn.-based insurer Cigna will no longer require pre-authorization for anti-addiction prescription drugs like buprenorphine, most commonly known by the brand name Suboxone, which can successfully curb opioid cravings. The new policy comes under terms of a national settlement negotiated by the New York State Office of the Attorney General, according to USA Today.

Under a law enacted this year, Medicaid plans in New York no longer require pre-authorizations for buprenorphine, but commercial insurance is not governed by the law. While pre-authorizations should only take several hours, paperwork hang-ups can postpone approval for days. These delays, in regards to treating opioid addiction, can result in relapse, overdose and death.

"Getting people into treatment faster, and when the window of opportunity is open, is vital to stemming the opioid addiction crisis," said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in a statement, according to USA Today. "Other health insurers should take notice of Cigna's actions to remove access barriers to treat opioid dependency and I encourage those insurers to follow suit."

Mr. Schneiderman's office is also looking into more inquiries on restrictions other payers have on medication-assisted treatments, but the attorney general did not disclose the names of the companies.

"We appreciate the ongoing leadership of the New York Office of the Attorney General on this matter," Cigna said in a statement, according to USA Today. "The misuse of opioids has taken a terrible toll in America, which is why Cigna is committed to reducing opioid use among our customers by 25 percent in three years."

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