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2:14 AM Thu, Nov. 15th

Blue Cross invests $10 million in battle against opioid misuse

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona is investing $10 million over three years to combat opioid epidemic. (Adobe Images)

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona is investing $10 million over three years to combat opioid epidemic. (Adobe Images)

KINGMAN – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona is investing $10 million over three years to combat the state’s highly publicized opioid epidemic, launching a mobile application to help address the issue.

Mobile AZ entails more than a dozen strategies tailored to patients, doctors and the community, including a grant program that will award $1 million a year for three years to addiction recovery organizations.

“All efforts will support prevention, treatment and recovery programs to help providers, the community and local organizations fight against the opioid epidemic,” Blue Cross Blue Shield spokeswoman Amber Schlaefer said in an email.

State health officials estimate some 8,500 overdoses and 1,500 deaths were the result of opioid abuse in the past year.

“The opioid epidemic is one of the most significant public health and safety issues the state has faced in generations,” BCBSAZ Chief Executive Officer Pam Kehaly said in a prepared statement.

“Our vision is to bring together medical professionals, insurers, government and the community to turn the tide against substance misuse, while showing compassion for those struggling with addiction and protecting those suffering from chronic pain.”

The company has reduced members’ opioid prescriptions by 35 percent since 2013.

Grant applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis through a formal request for proposal. An advisory committee will work with community health officials to shape priorities, review grant applications and monitor outcomes.