UAMS Receives $2.3 Million to Reimburse Facilities that Provide Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use

By Ben Boulden

The money will allow medical providers to offer treatment for opioid use disorder to patients without insurance or the ability to pay for services. This new effort is an offshoot of MATRIARC (Medication Assisted Treatment Recovery Initiative for Arkansas Rural Communities), a partnership between UAMS’ Psychiatric Research Institute and DHS.

Facilities wanting to take part in the project have until Feb. 28 to submit proposals to UAMS. The funding is scheduled to be available until April 30, 2020.

The funds will cover expenses including the cost of medication, hiring peer support specialists, providing treatment services and even travel costs for patients using medication-assisted treatment.

“We are really the stewards of the money, our job is to give it away,” said Michael Mancino, M.D., a professor in the UAMS College of Medicine Department of Psychiatry who oversees the MATRIARC program. “We’re working with clinics planning to or already providing medication-assisted treatment to people below the poverty line so they don’t have to turn anyone away.”

Medication-assisted treatment is using medication to relieve cravings and withdrawal symptoms along with counseling and support to overcome the use of opioids.

The following agencies have been awarded grants to provide office-based medication-assisted treatment: Recovery Centers of Arkansas, Ozark Guidance of Mountain Home, Quapaw House of El Dorado, Western Arkansas Guidance & Counseling of Fort Smith, Hamburg Health Clinic, WeCare & WeDeliver of Warren, UAMS Health Family Medical Center in Helena, UAMS Health Family Medical Center in Magnolia, UAMS Health Family Medical Center in Fort Smith, Harbor House of Fort Smith, Gold Cross Urgent Care of El Dorado, Spine Specialty Clinic of Heber Springs, Ouachita Behavioral Health and Wellness of Hot Springs, Counseling Services of Jacksonville, the Guinn Clinic of El Dorado, Northeast Arkansas Community Health of Jonesboro and Compassionate Care Clinic of Searcy.

Medication-assisted treatment includes methadone that can only be dispensed through an opiate treatment program, products containing buprenorphine that require a federal waiver for prescribers and injectable naltrexone, which does not require special qualifications for prescribing. Research has shown that a combination of medication-assisted treatment and behavioral therapy can successfully treat opioid use disorder and can help sustain recovery.