Protect yourself from mail delivery delays. Review this Consumer Advisory from The Maryland Insurance Administration.

CareFirst Awards Nearly $2.1M to Substance Use Disorder Treatment, Prevention Programs

Grants to nonprofits intended to help curb opioid use, other addiction problems

Baltimore, MD (October 24, 2018) - CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst), the region’s largest health insurer, is investing nearly $2.1 million in 11 community health organizations working to combat substance use disorders, including opioid use disorders, in Maryland, Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C.

The grants, awarded through a request for proposals process that opened in April 2018, will help the organizations bolster their substance use disorder treatment and prevention programs and expand their patients’ access to those programs. CareFirst’s contribution to the nonprofit health organizations is expected to impact more than 115,000 patients suffering from a substance use disorder.

The organizations awarded grants from CareFirst include:

  • Anne Arundel Medical Center Foundation: $150,000 to expand outpatient services and train Anne Arundel emergency department providers how to administer Suboxone to patients;
  • Arlington County Community Service Board: $250,000 to add primary care staff, peer recovery coaches and other services in Northern Virginia;
  • Association for the Public Defender of Maryland: $382,000 to provide outpatient screening, treatment, referrals, case management and peer support to justice-involved individuals in Frederick and Washington counties;
  • Behavioral Health Leadership Institute: $198,674 to offer medication-assisted treatment for opioid-addicted individuals leaving the Baltimore City detention center;
  • Catholic Charities of Baltimore: $150,000 to expand capacity for integrated treatment for co-occurring substance use disorders in Baltimore City and Baltimore County;
  • Family and Medical Counseling Service: $200,000 to expand access to screening, intervention, referrals, peer support and Narcan kits to patients in Washington, D.C.;
  • Harford County Office of Drug Control Policy: $111,000 to enhance triage and care coordination for individuals seeking access to treatment services;
  • Health Care for the Homeless: $100,000 to improve screening, intervention, referral to treatment services and Narcan kits at its Baltimore City facilities;
  • Tuerk House: $133,789 to increase access to an intensive outpatient program that provides group therapy services, case management, medication-assisted treatment and referral support;
  • University of Maryland Baltimore Foundation: $212,172 to bolster substance use disorder telemedicine capability for residents of Maryland’s Eastern Shore; and,
  • Western Maryland Health System Foundation: $200,000 to establish a community-based crisis center that will provide outpatient screening, assessment, intervention and referral services.

The demand for programs like these is clear. In the U.S. more than 115 people die every day after overdosing on opioids, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s March 2018 report. The total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse in the U.S. is $78.5 billion a year in the cost of care, addiction treatment, lost productivity and criminal justice, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We’re still grappling with a substance use disorder crisis nationwide and in our communities that is destroying families and ruining lives," said CareFirst President & CEO Brian D. Pieninck. "CareFirst has committed to helping find ways to address this crisis in care by partnering with many of the community-based health clinics that are on the front lines of this battle. We’re encouraged by their efforts to treat substance use disorders, and we look forward to the progress they make in the years ahead."

Meanwhile, CareFirst also has taken several steps in the past year to address opioid and substance use disorders among its fully insured members. Among them, CareFirst:

  • Partnered with intensive outpatient programs that provide highly individualized treatment, including relapse prevention, coping strategies and medication-assisted treatment;
  • Developed a Behavioral Health and Substance Use Disorder program through which primary care providers, nurses and behavioral health providers can refer CareFirst members with co-occurring medical and behavioral health disorders;
  • Introduced new requirements related to opioid prescription quantity and duration limits; and,
  • Enhanced its prescription drug-monitoring program to allow pharmacists to notify providers of the member’s utilization history and work with them to identify and address treatment concerns.

About CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield

In its 80th year of service, CareFirst, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, is a not-for-profit health care company which, through its affiliates and subsidiaries, offers a comprehensive portfolio of health insurance products and administrative services to 3.2 million individuals and groups in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia. In 2017, CareFirst invested more than $33 million to improve overall health, and increase the accessibility, affordability, safety and quality of health care throughout its market areas. To learn more about CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, visit our website at or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn or Instagram.