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Medication-Assisted Treatment in New Jersey Receives Increased Funding from Governor Murphy

Aug 3

The New Jersey Legislature passed a bill last month that doubles Medicaid reimbursement rates for physicians who offer medication-assisted treatment (MAT). The purpose of this law is to prevent individuals from being turned down for treatment because they are using MAT. It is important to note that there is no proven reason to reject a patient because of the type of treatment they're receiving. There is evidence to support its efficacy in treating opioid use disorder and reducing the risk of overdose.

Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) programs are a proven way to address addiction. In fact, nearly 70 percent of people who are incarcerated have a substance use disorder. Moreover, a majority of inmates who are suffering from a drug addiction relapse within three months of release. Those who relapsed are 120 times more likely to die of an opioid overdose compared to the general population. In the past year, the State of the State Address by Gov. Chris Christie has made the treatment a priority, pushing for more jail-based treatment beds and expanded housing for those who struggle with addiction. He has pledged to partner with Vitale and create more residential communities for people in recovery.

MAT is a treatment for addiction and includes behavioral therapy and medication. The treatment program may continue indefinitely, and patients must be monitored by an Advanced Practice Nurse (APN) and a MAT-certified physician. Additionally, medication-assisted treatment is available to clients in the state of New Jersey. These services are considered an effective way to treat opioid addiction. A high percentage of patients undergoing MAT undergo ongoing follow-ups by their physician, and the duration of the treatment depends on the severity of the addiction.

From the Governor's Office

TRENTON – The Murphy Administration today announced that the Department of Human Services (DHS) has launched a Naloxone Distribution Program [] in partnership with the Department of Health and the Office of the Attorney General. The program allows eligible agencies the opportunity to request direct shipments of naloxone online anytime they need it. 

“With nearly 3,000 New Jerseyans lost to overdoses each year, my Administration understands the critical importance of promoting harm reduction measures that can save the lives of countless residents struggling with substance use disorder,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “This distribution program is another way we are working to increase access to naloxone so that it will be on-hand whenever and wherever it is needed. My Administration will not stop seeking solutions to help the many people throughout our state who have been impacted by the opioid epidemic.”

“This program builds on existing efforts to get naloxone into as many hands as possible. Reducing barriers for first responders and community organizations to obtain naloxone will help ensure this life-saving antidote will be available when it is needed most,” said DHS Commissioner Sarah Adelman. “We look forward to eligible agencies registering for this essential program and expanding the availability of this medication. With the collaborative work of the agencies, together we can continue to turn the tide in our efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.” 

“Through this collaborative effort, EMS organizations, libraries and other organizations now will be able to directly access critical medication through this ordering portal," said New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. "Broadening the availability of naloxone puts it into more hands for rapid intervention and will help to save more lives.”

“Having an ample supply of Naloxone is essential to our efforts to bring an end to the opioid epidemic and prevent overdose deaths,” said Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin. “Getting this life-saving medication into as many hands as possible is critical to saving lives, and this program does just that. It not only ensures that law enforcement officers are able to keep enough naloxone on hand to treat individuals experiencing an opioid overdose, it also allows them to leave behind naloxone kits for future overdose emergencies.”

The distribution program allows for agencies including law enforcement, first responders and certain community organizations to register through a new website and easily request direct shipments of naloxone at no charge. Once approved, naloxone will be shipped on-demand directly from the manufacturer to minimize delay and maximize shelf life. The program supports a new state law [] that authorizes a recipient in possession of an opioid antidote to distribute the antidote, without fee, to any person at risk of experiencing an overdose or who may be in the best position to administer an opioid antidote.  This is to make opioid antidotes as easily accessible and widely available as possible. The law also requires first responders to leave behind naloxone to individuals in certain circumstances when responding to an overdose. The naloxone is paid for through federal State Opioid Response dollars. 

“The sooner an antidote can be administered, the more likely it is that we can save a life, and the creation of this website raises those chances. One overdose is one too many, and the Department is dedicated to making sure medication is available when and where it is needed,” said Deputy DHS Commissioner Lisa Asare. 

This work builds upon previous efforts by the Department to expand the reach of direct naloxone distribution. Over the last four years, the Department has distributed more than 132,000 two-dose naloxone kits throughout the state, and has also distributed naloxone through free giveaways to the public at pharmacies and through distributions to law enforcement, emergency medical services, harm reduction centers, and opioid treatment providers.

“Our driving goal has always been to save lives, and to do this we must make sure the opioid overdose reversal medication naloxone is readily available to as many people as possible. We know that every minute counts when it comes to opioid overdoses and direct distribution of this life-saving tool will make a difference,” said Assistant DHS Commissioner Valerie Mielke, who directs the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services [] (DMHAS). “We look forward to seeing the impact this program will have in saving lives.” 

Eligible agencies who can apply to the program include:

  • First responder agencies such as law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services;
  • Harm reduction agencies;
  • DMHAS-contracted community peer recovery centers;
  • County prosecutor’s offices;
  • DMHAS contracted family support centers;
  • Libraries;
  • Mobile outreach providers;
  • Opioid treatment programs;
  • Re-entry programs;
  • DMHAS-contracted treatment programs; and
  • Shelters.