First report on VCU’s evaluation of Medicaid substance use benefit expansion.

September 25, 2017

In response to the opioid epidemic, Virginia implemented the Addiction and Recovery Treatment Services (ARTS) program in April, 2017 to increase access to treatment for Medicaid members with opioid or other substance use disorders (SUD). ARTS benefits cover a wide range of addiction treatment services.  

 The Department of Medical Assistance Services contracted with Virginia Commonwealth University to conduct an independent evaluation of the ARTS program. This brief highlights developments across the first three months of the evaluation period, from April 1st, 2017 to July 1st, 2017.

Key findings of this inaugural evaluation report include: 1) treatment rates among Medicaid members with SUD increased by 50% in the first 3 months of ARTS compared to a similar time period in 2016; 2) rates of pharmacotherapy for members with an opioid use disorder (OUD) increased in all regions of Virginia with the Eastern region experiencing the largest improvement (79%) in the number of members treated; and 3) the number of outpatient practitioners providing OUD services to Medicaid members more than doubled, from 300 practitioners to 691 during the first 3 months of ARTS.