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Federal Health Plan Now Covers SBI

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The Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program now includes coverage for screening and brief intervention (SBI) for addictions, taking advantage of new reimbursement codes issued by the American Medical Association (AMA).

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) announced that doctors who conduct SBI on the 5.6 million federal workers in the FEHB program will be reimbursed by submitting claims to insurers using a pair of new Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes from the AMA.

SBI typically takes place in a doctor's office, health clinics or emergency rooms and is intended to identify individuals with addiction problems and refer them to appropriate treatment services.

“By opening the lines of communication between doctors and patients, SBI can help identify users and reduce substance use and its associated consequences,” said Bertha Madras, deputy director for demand reduction at ONDCP. “This intervention assists an individual engaged in risky substance abuse to change their behaviors — behaviors associated with adverse medical events such as accidents, injuries, trauma, overdoses, medical conditions (depression, hypertension, sleep disorders, infections), social consequences, and the slide toward drug and alcohol addiction.

“SBI is a public-health procedure that can readily be implemented across the entire healthcare sector and in all 50 states,” added Madras. “It assists individuals using drugs and alcohol by providing timely and cost-effective interventions. I applaud the federal insurers for recognizing the merits and benefits of SBI for their members, and their patients.”

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