The Opiate Epidemic & What You Can Do To Help

Opiate Epidemic

I’ve been working in Addictions my entire career, which is about 18 years now. Throughout my career I’ve seen the rate of addiction rise faster than providers can keep up, and the rate of addiction is accelerating. The opiate epidemic is taking our friends and family members at an alarming rate, to the point Govenor Cuomo could declare a state of emergency.

Lawmakers are saying that there is a shortage of providers in WNY to respond to the epidemic, yet Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHCs) are unable to accept the main insurance plans in WNY, i.e., BC/BS, Univera and IHA. That means that an entire group of providers are unavailable to addicts, except the few who can afford to pay out of pocket. In my practice alone I turn away several addicts a week, sometimes more than one a day, because I cannot accept their insurance.

In our region, unfortunately, the situation with insurance is the worst. An hour down the Thruway in Rochester, LMHCs are able to accept all the major insurances in their area, except BC/BS (but Excellus is set to start accepting LMHCs 4/1/16). Nationwide insurers like Aetna, MagnaCare, TriCare (Military), MVP and others all work with LMHCs.

This makes me angry, so I’m trying to turn my anger into positive energy! I’m reaching out to other professionals and to our clients. We need your help! I’m asking other LMHCs to apply to BC/BS, Univera and IHA, and if they are refused to file a grievance. If you see an LMHC, obtain a superbill for their services and send it to your insurance company, and if it is declined for reimbursement, file a grievance. PLEASE DO THIS ASAP AND OBTAIN SUPERBILLS FOR ALL VISITS.

This is only a start. We also need to contact our local state legislators. We need to get friends and family involved in raising awareness of this issue. Over the next few weeks I will continue to post suggestions to help you get involved, including contact information to local leaders as well as sample letters to use or edit. If you can’t wait, please contact me at 716-572-8677 or at MelissaBabiarzLMHC@hotmail.com

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