Every day in the news we hear about the devastating impact of the opioid crisis across the country. While we need to confront this complicated crisis, we also need to examine the larger issue of substance use disorders (SUD) that impact millions of Americans.

This past September, I had the honor to represent Magellan Health at the first meeting of the Substance Use Disorder Treatment Task Force, founded by Shatterproof. The mission of the task force is, “To fundamentally improve substance use disorder treatment in the United States, in terms of both quality and patient outcomes.” It also addresses the underlying cause of our country’s current substance use crisis, and lack of access to quality and evidence-based treatment. The task force has been created to expand access to quality treatment for the estimated 21 million Americans with SUD.

This task force is unique in that it convenes public and private healthcare companies, advocates and former government officials to take the lead in developing a tactical plan with measurable goals for payers to follow and implement. I am proud to be joined by so many colleagues and experts across the industry.

Our first focus is to implement the recommendations outlined in the November 2016 Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health. Secondly, we will utilize methods outlined in a 2006 report from the Institute of Medicine which recommends the need for a group of government regulators, accrediting organizations, consumer representatives, providers and purchasers to come together to develop a common, continually improving set of quality measures, specifically for mental health and substance use disorders.

The work of this task force aligns nicely with our efforts at Magellan, helping lead individuals to healthy, vibrant lives. Working with individuals with SUD, from both the behavioral health and the pharmacy benefits management perspective, we are in a unique position to help address these issues. I believe we can make significant contributions on this task force and for the benefit of our customers, members and providers with whom we work.