Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment: New Populations, New Effectiveness Data
By Rebecca A. Clay
SBIRT can also save money, other research suggests.
In one CSAT-funded study, for instance, the Washington State SBIRT grantee examined the approach’s impact on Medicaid costs for emergency room patients.
Researchers in the state’s Department of Social and Health Services compared changes in costs for 1,315 disabled Medicaid recipients who received at least a brief intervention through the Washington SBIRT project and 8,972 who did not.
The reduction in total Medicaid costs after receiving the intervention was $185 to $192 per person per month, the researchers found. The lowered costs came mostly from declines in inpatient hospitalizations.
Although some modest costs are associated with providing SBIRT services, the researchers estimated that the state could potentially save up to $2.8 million a year by continuing to provide SBIRT services to working-age disabled patients.
Read the paper.
Some challenges remain, including reimbursement for SBIRT services.
Not all providers may be aware that there are now billing codes that can allow them to receive reimbursement for providing SBIRT, explained Mr. Forman.
Providers are beginning to use the new, universally accepted Medicare codes, he said. And several third-party payers already accept the American Medical Association’s new Current Procedural Terminology codes for SBIRT services.
“We’re going to expand our efforts to educate providers on the funding support for doing SBIRT,” said Mr. Forman. CSAT is planning a summit on financing policy in 2010, for example, which will educate state policymakers and health care decisionmakers about the codes and how to use them.
Medicaid codes are a different story, Mr. Forman added. “Each state has to review the use of the SBIRT code, review it against their budget, and make a decision about whether they’ll adopt it,” he explained. Although a few states have already adopted the Medicaid codes, the vast majority have not. “That’s a little more difficult road to travel,” he said.
Find out more about CSAT’s SBIRT program.
The Web site for SAMHSA’s Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) program includes the following resources: