About Us

Frank James, MD, JD, FASAM

Candidate for Region III Director

Biography and Statement

Frank James, MD, JD, FASAM

1. What are your greatest contributions to ASAM and the field of addiction medicine?

While the bedrock of my experience and passion for Addiction Medicine will always be my clinical practice as a psychiatrist and addictionologist in underserved areas in West Virginia and The Ohio Valley, my greatest contributions to ASAM and the field of Addiction Medicine involve the use of my education and experience in medicine and the law, and my expertise in payer relations, my support for improved access to quality care, and my advocacy for the enhancement of the roles of Addictiologists and allied-addiction specialists in the treatment of disorders of addictions addiction. With a passion for service, I began my career with serving in the United States Army and completing my internship and residency in General Psychiatry at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. My most rewarding clinical years as an addictionologist were those when I developed and ran the only office-based addiction medicine clinic that accepted Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania Medicaid and private insurances, outside of West Virginia University, for the treatment of OUD from 2008 to 2010. I traveled around the Ohio Valley educating psychiatrists and PCP’s about treating opioid addiction and how to establish addiction clinical services. Having run my clinic prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and laws regarding parity, I understand the frustration and pressures of practicing addictionologists. It is this experience that underscores and shapes the use of my payer expertise to help ASAM members in their addiction practices. After seven years of practicing psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry, forensic psychiatry and addiction medicine in the Ohio Valley, I decided that I could provide even greater service to my peers, patients, and community by bringing my understanding of practice to a part of our health care system in great need of education about the disorders of addiction. Making the transition to a position in United HealthCare and Optum in 2010, I have had the opportunity to serve as a national subject matter expert in Addiction Medicine consulting in all areas related to the delivery of addiction medicine services and benefit coverage. As a national medical director, I continued with my passion of providing education and support to other medical directors, licensed clinicians, and care advocates on all matters of substance use evaluation, treatment programming, Urine Drug Testing (UDT) and the use of Medications for Addiction Treatment (MAT). Relying heavily on ASAM guidelines and white papers as primary source of support, I supported national efforts to enhance benefits and services that are evidenced-based and meet the standard of care set for addiction medicine. By increasing the understanding that addiction is a chronic brain disease in parity with any other medical disease or disorder, I worked within my position help implement the ASAM Criteria as the national benefit guideline for treatment of substance use disorders for all books commercial and public sector books of business within Optum.

Within in ASAM my contributions have directly included serving as Vice Chair and Chair of ASAM’s Payer Relations Committee, and a member of the Legislative Action Committee, the Finance Committee and the Public Policy Council. Beginning in 2020, I have been appointed to Chair the newly created The Practice Management and Regulatory Affairs Committee is responsible for responding to regulations and policies that impact addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery created by federal regulatory agencies, public and private payers, and purchasers of health care goods and services. The Committee is also charged with monitoring and developing practice management resources for addiction medicine specialty practices, including reviewing and considering the recommendations of ASAM’s CPT and RUC Advisors prior to submission to the relevant AMA committees. Most recently, I have been served on the ASAM Criteria Education Committee, and am leading the creation of a curriculum for educating both providers and payors in the use of ASAM Criteria as a SUDs treatment benefit guideline. Over the last 2 years, I have served as your Region III representative to the ASAM Board of Directors, and I respectfully request your vote to allow me to continue to represent our region and country’s urgent needs and advocacy to further the fight against the opioid epidemic and promulgation of Addiction Medicine evidenced-based treatment for all disorders of addiction.

2. How would your election benefit ASAM and the field of addiction medicine?

We addiction physicians are privileged to work with patients, their families, and our communities. We truly save the lives of people suffering from addictive disorders. Unfortunately, while we are trained in medical arts and sciences, the practice of addiction medicine is increasingly complex. The intrusion of legislation and regulatory burdens, the lack understanding of those suffering from addiction, strained relationships between payers and providers, and the lack of evidence-based treatment consistent with national principles set forth in ASAM’s Criteria, guidelines and white papers creates confusion for both patients and provider, often creates barriers to actual delivery of services with burdensome legal and practice management paper work. With my election as the representative of Region III to the ASAM Board or Directors, I will bring my expertise as an addiction physician, my national payer experience, and the previous 6 years of volunteer work within ASAM as directly to the highest levels within ASAM, Regions III’s state legislatures and related federal agencies. The need for streamlining processes, developing innovative and adequate payment structures, and supporting evidenced-based treatment and outcome and value-based quality addiction services is urgent. This requires collaboration among providers, legislative agencies, and critical stakeholders in a unified response to the addictive and use disorder epidemics facing our region and country. As a licensed attorney, I have a deep understanding of the nuances involved in unraveling complex medical-legal issues and the importance of framing dignified and respectful national policies and legislation that support both people suffering from disorders of addiction, and those that treat them.

As a provider, I understand the burdens those of us dedicated to the practice of Addiction Medicine. I understand the need for reforms in our payment and delivery systems that support addiction specialists as we face the challenges tackling our national opioid epidemic. Accomplishing this this will require the efforts of many people who will bring diverse knowledge and skills to the ASAM Board of Directors. With my unique background, a history of service to our country, and those suffering disorders of addiction, I am willing to roll up my sleeves and work for you Region III’s Director at Large.

I respectfully ask for your vote.

Biographical Sketch

Dr. James is board certified in General, Child & Adolescent and Forensic Psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Additionally, Dr. James is certified in Addiction Medicine by the American Board of Addiction Medicine and by the American Board of Preventive Medicine. He leads Behavioral Health Services Consulting, a company dedicated to improving reimbursement and supporting evidence-based treatment for Substance Use Disorders (SUDs). Dr. James has a strong track record of supporting Health Plans, Managed Care Organizations (MCOs), Pharmacy Benefit Management (PBMs), provider groups, and individual practitioners is critical areas of SUDs benefit management. Dr. James earned his Law and Medical Degrees at Southern Illinois University. Dr. James is a member of both the Ohio and Illinois Bar. He is a Veteran of the United States Army, having completed his Internship and Residency in General Psychiatry at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and Fellowships in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Forensic Psychiatry at the University of Cincinnati School of Medicine. He spent his early career providing inpatient and outpatient psychiatric services in underserved areas in West Virginia and The Ohio Valley. Most notable, from 2008 -2010, Dr. James developed and ran an outpatient Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) specialty clinical from his hospital-based practice focused on the integration of group therapy, psychotropic medication management, Urine Drug Testing (UDT) and Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT).