Current News from the Project Office
PLNDP Action Kit
In line with our education goals, the Project Office has created a PLNDP Action Kit. This kit contains:
- copies of major editorials written and published by PLNDP members to raise public awareness about the group’s activities;
- annotated graphics from both research reports; and
- a set of teaching slides summarizing the goals of the PLNDP, its membership, and the primary findings of the research reports.
This kit includes materials to educate yourself and others about the PLNDP and its activities. All of the Action Kit graphics and materials can
currently be viewed on the web.
If you are interested in using selected slides from the PLNDP Action Kit for presentations, please contact Kathryn Cates-Wessel at 401-444-1816 or by email at email@example.com .
A recent report by the RAND Corporation, a California think tank, concluded that the annual cost for large corporations and HMOs to provide complete
substance abuse benefits would be about $5 per employee. Such benefits would accord substance abuse “parity” with other medical treatment and prevention programs already covered by these companies. Parity is of
major importance to the PLNDP for its cost-effectiveness in both human and economic terms. The abstract of the RAND report is below and the entire article will be sent to you soon. The enclosed PLNDP “parity fact
sheet” briefly explains the concept of parity.
Sturm, Roland, et al. How Expensive are Unlimited Substance Abuse Benefits Under Managed Care? The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research
26(2): 203; 1999. ABSTRACT:
Substance abuse care has been excluded from recent federal and state legislation mandating equal benefits for mental health (MH) and medical care
(“parity”), largely because of cost concerns. This paper studies how many patients are affected by substance abuse coverage limits and the likely implications of limits on insurance payments, using 1996/97 claims
from 25 managed care plans with unlimited substance abuse (SA) benefits. The low coverage limits currently in existence leave some patients without insurance coverage for a large part of their treatment. Changing
even stringent limits on annual SA benefits has a small absolute effect on overall insurance costs under managed care, even though a large percentage of substance abuse patients are affected. Removing an annual
limit of $10,000 per year on substance abuse care is estimated to increase insurance payments by about 6 cents per member per year, removing a limit of $1,000 increases payments by about 3.40. As long as care is
comprehensively managed, “parity” for substance abuse in employer-sponsored health plans is not very costly.
The first PLNDP videotape report, Drug Addiction: The Promise of Treatment, has been very well-received.
We have distributed it to hundreds of PLNDP Physician Associates nationwide and thousands of individuals in various fields who are using the video to educate their peers and colleagues. The feedback has been very positive, especially since so many different groups—healthcare educators, practicing physicians, criminal justice professionals, judges—have viewed the video and continue to share its message with others. For a complimentary copy of the video, please complete the form on our webpage or in the enclosed brochure.
From the PLNDP’s second research report, “Health, Addiction Treatment, and the Criminal Justice System,” a new videotape report, entitled Trial, Treatment, and Transformation, was generated and has just been released. This video presents evidence on the effectiveness of treatment programs as compared to incarceration and includes comments from a number of experts in the field. In addition, this video features the story of two successful drug court graduates; we hope that this humanistic element will help spark discussions about addiction and the criminal justice system among a wide range of audiences. As with the first video, you can request a complimentary copy of the video by filling out the order form on the web or in the enclosed brochure.
Medical Student Survey
In February, 1998, the PLNDP conducted a survey to investigate medical student perceptions about drug treatment and policies. Few past surveys have
explored student attitudes concerning patients with addictions. Lack of information is clearly detrimental since students’ beliefs during training can have profound effects on the manner in which they treat future
patients. Surveys were sent to first and third year students in a random selection of medical schools, and 1,256 medical students responded, from 15 medical schools in 14 states.
The majority of respondents (76%) reported receiving little or no training in substance abuse issues in medical school, though they also indicated a
strong desire for physician involvement in designing drug policy. Analysis of survey data revealed that political orientation was one of the most important factors in determining students’ policy orientations toward
supply, demand (use), and harm reduction.
Regardless of political orientation, however, most students were supportive of certain medical approaches to drug policy such as the legalization of
medical marijuana and increased research funding. The medical student survey will be published soon and further details about the survey will be posted on the Medical Student Associate homepage.