The CMS hopes to reduce the number of babies born addicted to opioids by launching a new Medicaid model to treat their mothers.
The CMS Innovation Center will enter into agreements with up to 12 states whose Medicaid agencies will implement the M-O-M, or Maternal Opioid Misuse, model with one or more provider organizations in their communities.
The partnership will provide a wide range of services for pregnant and postpartum women struggling with opioid misuse, the CMS said Tuesday.
"Too many barriers impede the delivery of well-coordinated, high-quality care to pregnant and postpartum women struggling with opioid misuse, including lack of access to treatment and a shortage of providers in rural areas, where the opioid crisis is especially destructive," HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.
Participating states will be responsible for making sure beneficiaries have access to essential physical and behavioral health services such as medication-assisted treatment, maternity care, relevant primary-care services, and other mental and behavioral health services beyond medication-assisted treatment.
The CMS anticipates awarding five-year grants totaling $64.6 million to 12 states next year. The model will span five years once the agency issues contracts.
The agency hopes the program will help lower the rate of babies born with opioid addiction, one of which is born every 25 minutes, adding up to more than 21,000 babies every year, a study published in the Journal of Perinatology found. From 2004 to 2013, hospitals saw admissions of neonatal abstinence syndrome grow from 7 per 1,000 admissions to 27 per 1,000.
Women of reproductive age and pregnant women covered by Medicaid fill prescriptions for opioids more commonly than those not in the program.
In the 2000s, 21.6% of pregnant women enrolled in Medicaid filled an opioid prescription, with rates ranging from 9.5% to 41.6% across states, which is significantly higher than the rates of opioid use during pregnancy observed in a commercially insured population, according to a 2014 study in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology. Infants exposed to opioids before birth are at greater risk of being born pre-term, having a low birth weight, and experiencing the effects of neonatal abstinence syndrome.
Medicaid is the largest payer of hospital charges for maternal substance use, as well as a majority of the $1.5 billion annual cost of neonatal abstinence syndrome, according to HHS.