NJ Human Services: Syringe Access Programs in Asbury Park and Atlantic City to Offer Access to Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction

Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey to Receive Funding to Develop Opioid Addiction Treatment Program

April 25, 2019

(TRENTON) – New Jersey Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson today announced plans for syringe access programs in Atlantic City and Asbury Park to provide access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction.

The Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey will develop a program to prescribe buprenorphine, which is a medication-assisted treatment to treat opioid addiction, at the syringe access sites. The access to medication-assisted treatment will be available at the South Jersey AIDS Alliance in Atlantic City and the Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey’s location in Asbury Park.  The programs are expected to start later this spring.

“This program will offer life-changing help in a safe environment for individuals struggling with opioid addiction,” said Commissioner Johnson. “We continue to focus on reducing barriers to treatment, addressing unmet treatment needs and maintaining recovery. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for people facing opioid addiction to find effective help in many different ways. This plan will provide on-demand access to treatment for individuals who otherwise may find it challenging to access substance use disorder help.”

“Many of those at highest-risk for opioid overdose struggle to access medication-assisted treatment,” said Human Services Assistant Commissioner Valerie Mielke, who oversees the Department’s Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services.  “This often includes individuals who are homeless and those using heroin who utilize syringe access programs. Overdoses in these high-risk populations could be prevented if they had ready access to medication-assisted treatment and other supports.”

“When a person decides they are ready to enter treatment, immediate access to MAT is critical,” said Principal Deputy Health Commissioner Jackie Cornell. “Providing same-day access to prescriptions for buprenorphine, while a warm hand-off to a treatment provider is arranged, increases the likelihood that a person will fully engage in treatment and pursue recovery.  On-demand access to MAT is an important addition to the comprehensive suite of services available at our harm reduction centers.”

Under the program, the Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey will receive $355,000 annually for two years.

The program at the syringe access sites will be the latest step in the Murphy Administration’s efforts to reduce barriers to medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction.

As of April 1, the Murphy Administration removed prior authorization requirements for medication-assisted treatment to treat opioid addiction. It is also:

  • Investing in training more primary care physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants to provide medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction;
  • Creating new Medicaid payment incentives to encourage primary care providers to offer medication-assisted treatment;
  • Funding two Medicaid Centers of Excellence for opioid treatment – one at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in Newark and one at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University – to provide community providers access to addiction experts and supports; and
  • Requiring residential treatment facilities that receive Medicaid payment to provide access to medication-assisted treatment as of July 1.