Attorney General Becerra Urges Insurance Providers to Improve Access to Care for Individuals to help Combat the Opioid Epidemic

Thursday, February 14, 2019
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

AG Becerra also releases infographic and fact sheet to display how the opioid crisis is impacting California

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today urged health insurance providers to remove prior authorization requirements for medication-assisted treatment (MAT) of individuals with an opioid abuse disorder. In a letter addressed to 17 health insurance executives, Attorney General Becerra explained that authorization requirements for MAT burdens individuals suffering from opioid misuse and addiction by creating barriers to treatment. MAT medications such as buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone reduce drug use and overdoses. As of June 2016, the authorization requirements affected 40 percent of patients with private health insurance who attempt to access MAT improve health conditions.

“Individuals suffering from substance abuse disorders related to prescription opioids need access to treatment and care,” said Attorney General Becerra. “California is committed to advancing solutions to protect the health and well-being of our residents. I urge insurance providers to join us in our efforts to give patients the treatment they need and deserve, without the burdens of lengthy medical paperwork and processes.” 

Along with today’s letter, Attorney General Becerra released a prescription opioid infographic and companion fact sheet that address the causes of opioid misuse and addiction, the personal and communal consequences of continued abuse, and how the Attorney General’s office is fighting back. 

The infographic displays that, in one year, the misuse of opioids in California resulted in:

  • $4 million in healthcare costs, more than double what any other state spent;
  • 400 million emergency room visits and over 3,600 hospitalizations; and
  • 1300 deaths, 70% of which involved prescription opioids.

Since taking office, Attorney General Becerra has taken critical steps to fighting the opioid epidemic. In December of 2018, his office worked to uphold a murder conviction of a California doctor. In May 2018, Attorney General Becerra joined a bipartisan coalition of 39 states urging Congress to combat the opioid epidemic by passing the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) 2.0 and the Comprehensive Addiction Reform, Education, and Safety (CARES) Act. In September 2017, the Attorney General expanded his investigation of pharmaceutical manufacturers and the three largest distributors of opioids to determine if the companies engaged in unlawful practices in the marketing, sale, and distribution of opioids. The California Department of Justice also maintains California’s prescription drug monitoring program, CURES 2.0, which allows health providers and pharmacists to flag at-risk patients and curb prescription drug abuse.

The infographic and fact sheet can be found here and here.

A copy of the letter can be found here.

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