California’s MAT Expansion Project Adds New Treatment Capacity while Addressing Continuing Barriers

California has made significant progress in expanding access to opioid treatment, but roadblocks still remain, according to a recent article from Kaiser Health News. The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) recently shared outcomes from the Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Expansion project, which has expanded opioid treatment to more than 20,000 patients statewide and created more than 650 new access points for treatment.

The growing number of patients has been encouraging but stigma against MAT and limits on the number of patients that prescribers can treat has hindered progress. COVID-19 has further complicated matters, by making face-to-face prescribing and therapy difficult during the stay-at-home order.

DHCS, along with MAT Expansion Project partners, are combating stigma with public information campaigns like Choose Change California. The project also focuses on training providers to treat patients in other settings, including emergency rooms, hospitals, primary care clinics, residential treatment programs, county mental health centers, jails and drug courts. And, the state has released new guidance allowing treatment via telehealth for prescribers and counselors, to continue providing treatment to patients during social distancing.

To learn more about the MAT Expansion project, see the slides from a recent webinar series highlighting the project’s initiatives; to learn more about MAT during the stay at home order, visit DHCS’ COVID-19 page.