Addressing the human and economic toll of opioid use disorder will require the shared commitment of private, public, and nonprofit sectors, according to a Boston Globe op-ed co-authored by Partners HealthCare President and CEO David Torchiana, MD, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts President and CEO Andrew Dreyfus, and Boston Medical Center President and CEO Kate Walsh.
As noted on this blog, the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation recently released a report highlighting the negative economic impact of opioid use disorder on the state’s economy, to the tune of $5 billion in lost productivity and additional health care costs in 2017. Torchiana, Dreyfus, and Walsh sit on the board of RIZE Massachusetts, which funded this report. Other recent research suggests that more than half of people suffering from opioid use disorders are full-time employees—a clarion call for the Commonwealth’s employers to join government and nonprofits in making a serious commitment to addressing the crisis. “Massachusetts takes pride in our skilled and industrious workforce, but that too is affected by the opioid crisis,” the op-ed states.
"But government and the nonprofit sectors can’t do it alone. As we learn more about the impact of the opioid epidemic on our economy, the business community must now bring its commitment, brainpower, and resources to the table and become an equal partner in addressing this crisis, just as it has done in the past on other issues."
Suggested avenues for engagement include enabling access to opioid use-related medications and counseling; accessing tool kits provided by hospitals and insurers; leading by example to eliminate stigma and encourage those suffering to seek help; and using business buying power to influence public policy.
It’s a daunting problem to be sure, but recent cross-sector collaborations that successfully impacted education reform, marriage equality, and health care reform offer reason to hope that with dedicated partnerships, we can together relieve the devastation of this crisis. “We are confident that when the public, nonprofit, and private sectors fully come together, we will get it done and make the Commonwealth even stronger,” the piece concludes.
Read more in the Boston Globe op-ed.