One of the Open Society Institute-Baltimore’s first priorities when we opened our doors in 1998 was to make certain that anyone who needed drug addiction treatment was able to get it—whether or not they had health insurance.
Over the past 15 years, there was an increase of $20 million per year for addiction treatment in Baltimore. This translates into about 14,000 patients being admitted annually for drug addiction treatment in Baltimore, and it is now rare for a treatment program to have a waiting list. Today, five times more patients receive Medicaid to cover addiction treatment, and almost twice as many have health coverage.
In 1998, buprenorphine was not allowed to be prescribed for heroin addiction. However because of the funding OSI-Baltimore provided for the last 10 years, Baltimore is now a model for how buprenorphine can be incorporated into addiction treatment. OSI-Baltimore brought in doctors from around the world who had successfully used buprenorphine to train physicians in Baltimore. Now, 1,400 patients are prescribed buprenorphine annually.
And that’s just the beginning. With the advent of health care reform, addiction treatment will not only be a benefit, but addiction will be treated as a long-term disease.