BOSTON, MA – Elected officials today joined business, health care and community leaders to launch a statewide private-sector effort to battle opioid addiction in Massachusetts. RIZE Massachusetts, an independent non-profit organization, seeks to raise $50 million over the next three years to support innovative care designed to help people with substance abuse disorders adhere to their treatment and maintain their recovery. The fundraising effort, which has already attracted nearly $13 million in commitments, was announced during the first RIZE meeting, attended by more than 60 participants.
“For too long, medicine has failed to treat addiction as the chronic disease that it is,” said David Torchiana, MD, President & Chief Executive Officer, Partners HealthCare. “This effort holds promise because it is focused on the ongoing process of recovery. It is the only approach that will defeat this epidemic.”
“The opioid epidemic has had a tragic impact on our Commonwealth’s families and communities, and we are always encouraged to have new partners joining efforts to curb this crisis,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Since taking office, we have made our response a top public health priority, enacting landmark legislation and increasing investments in education, treatment, recovery and prevention. We welcome RIZE Massachusetts and the private sector’s commitment to joining the intense focus our administration and others have placed on fighting this devastating epidemic.”
For too long, medicine has failed to treat addiction as the chronic disease that it is. This effort holds promise because it is focused on the ongoing process of recovery. It is the only approach that will defeat this epidemic.David Torchiana, MD President & Chief Executive Officer, Partners HealthCare
Opioid overdoses kill six people in Massachusetts every day – five times more than car crashes. For those who survive an overdose, medication cuts their risk of death by half, but only 5 percent of overdose survivors are started on medicine. Recognizing the chronic nature of this illness, RIZE will focus on proposed solutions that ensure immediate access to evidence-based treatment, improve adherence to treatment and achieve long-term remission. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the state’s largest private health plan, has committed to help test and measure the cost-effectiveness of promising new models of care.
“Since day one, I have made combating this deadly public health crisis a top priority of my office, and have been working closely with partners across the state to stop the flow of these drugs into our communities, support prevention efforts, and ensure people can get access to treatment,” said Attorney General Maura Healey. “We need all stakeholders involved to truly turn the tide on this epidemic, and I am grateful for the private sector’s commitment through this exciting initiative by RIZE Massachusetts.”
"Opioid addiction is one of the defining public health issues of our time," said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. "We know that addressing opioid addiction takes innovative thinking, and I credit RIZE and their partners with working tirelessly to bring solutions to those with substance abuse disorders."
“Five years ago, we implemented a first-of-its-kind program to improve the quality and safety of care for our members taking prescription pain medications,” said Andrew Dreyfus, President & Chief Executive Officer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. “The program has reduced the number of opioid-based prescriptions among our members and become a model for other states. We look forward to leveraging our expertise and insights to help evaluate new clinical interventions that will lead to better patient outcomes.”
“As healthcare workers, we are on the front lines of the opioid addiction epidemic, and we see firsthand the trauma and pain that this disease inflicts,” said Tyrék D. Lee Sr., Executive Vice President, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. “For many of us, this crisis hits close to home, not only at our workplaces, but also within our own families. That’s why we are proud to participate in RIZE and reaffirm our commitment to ending the epidemic of opioid and substance abuse addiction. Our financial contribution is just a start – we will use the strength of our collective voice and collaborate with our partners in advocating to break down the stigma of addiction through training and education and provide better access to treatment programs in our communities.”
Dr. David Barash, Chief Medical Officer, GE Foundation, and RIZE board member, said, “Since moving to Boston, we have committed $15 million to fighting the opioid epidemic. We’re grateful today to see even more organizations join us and fully hope and expect that even more will be inspired to act and contribute to RIZE Massachusetts. We can do great things together -- by seeding ideas locally that can be scaled nationally and by inspiring others to act, we will create results that far exceed what any of us individually invest.”
To process new ideas, RIZE will issue Requests for Proposals and establish a review committee populated by content experts and representatives of public and private insurers. Grant decisions will be made by the RIZE board based on recommendations from the review committee and executive director.
The RIZE board is composed of David Barash, MD, Chief Medical Officer and Executive Director, Global Health, GE Foundation; Jack Connors; Andrew Dreyfus, President and Chief Executive Officer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts; Michael K. Lauf, President and Chief Executive Officer, Cape Cod Healthcare; Tyrék D. Lee Sr., Executive Vice President, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East; Myechia Minter-Jordan, MD, MBA, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Dimock Center; Joanne Peterson, Founder and Executive Director, Learn to Cope; David Torchiana, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer, Partners HealthCare; and Kate Walsh, President and Chief Executive Officer, Boston Medical Center. The board has already begun the search for an executive director.