Level of Care Certification

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What is the ASAM Level of Care certification? Why is it important?

ASAM Level of Care certification, delivered in partnership with CARF International (CARF), will be the first program of its kind to independently assess and verify treatment programs’ ability to deliver services consistent with Levels of Care described in The ASAM Criteria®.

The ASAM Criteria is the nation’s most respected, comprehensive, and widely used set of research-validated standards for providing outcome-oriented care in the treatment of addiction. Used by clinicians and payers across all care settings and serving as the foundation of treatment system reform efforts in states across the country, The ASAM Criteria helps providers match patients to the right Level of Care based on the severity of their disease.

The ASAM Criteria plays a critical role in national efforts to advance evidence-based treatment for the disease of addiction. The common language and universal standards set by The ASAM Criteria establish a framework to help payers and healthcare systems ensure they are offering the full continuum of care to meet patients’ needs. However, there has never been any independent verification of treatment programs’ ability to deliver services with fidelity to evidence-based standards found in The ASAM Criteria.

What does certification entail? How will the program work?

ASAM Level of Care certification will initially doctor-writing-a-prescription_1232-384cover adult residential programs at Levels 3.1, 3.5, and 3.7 of The ASAM Criteria. Certification covering adolescent programs, co-occurring enhanced programs, and programs at other Levels of Care—ranging from early intervention services (Level 0.5) to intensive, medically-managed inpatient services with round-the-clock physician staffing (Level 4)—may be developed in the future.

Providers of residential substance use disorder services will submit applications directly to CARF seeking certification for Level 3.1, 3.5 and/or 3.7. CARF will conduct onsite surveys to evaluate the providers’ satisfaction of ratable elements applicable to the applied-for Level(s) of Care and issue an independent certification decision. This independence ensures there will be no conflict of interest when treatment programs operated by ASAM members apply for certification.

To be issued certification, programs must demonstrate during survey the presence of ratable elements sufficient to satisfy the proprietary scoring methodology, including but not limited to the presence of all “defining elements” – those certain ratable elements that are crucial to the operation of all treatment programs or are a hallmark of a particular Level of Care.  Once certified, programs must promptly address any deficiencies in a plan of action submitted to CARF and annually attest to continued satisfaction of the applicable ratable elements. To maintain uninterrupted certification beyond the three-year term of certification, programs must timely apply for and successfully complete a recertification survey.

How is ASAM Level of Care certification different from accreditation?

ASAM Level of Care certification is different from, but complementary to accreditation. Accreditation from organizations such as CARF and the Joint Commission is a comprehensive quality review of a program and its service delivery and related business practices.

ASAM Level of Care certification demonstrates a program’s capacity to deliver a specific Level of Care, thereby differentiating between the many Levels of Care available for addiction treatment. Certification does not address the quality of service delivery or broader organizational policies and procedures.

 

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What does this mean for:

Patients?

When patients and their loved ones see the ASAM Level of Care certificate, they will feel secure in knowing that the treatment program is equipped to deliver the evidence-based treatment needed.

Treatment programs?

Treatment programs already capable of delivering the evidence-based care outlined in The ASAM Criteria will receive well-deserved recognition for their commitment to helping patients. Treatment programs seeking to improve so that they are capable of offering evidence-based care will be able to turn to ASAM for assistance. ASAM will offer publications and trainings to help treatment programs craft and implement policies and procedures that will help them achieve this goal.

Payers?

The ASAM Level of Care certification will help to differentiate between the various levels of residential care that are often grouped together as one. As such, this certification will provide an independent assessment of the services that treatment programs are equipped to provide. Payers may use this information to reduce prior authorization requirements, structure reimbursement models, or create centers of excellence for addiction treatment. Above all, certification will provide a method for ensuring that patients enter treatment programs that are equipped to deliver evidence-based care.

Find a Certified Program

Visit CARF's provider locator and search "ASAM." To find treatment programs capable of delivering a specific level of care, search "ASAM Level of Care" followed by the level of care (e.g., 3.5 or 3.7). 

Receive updates

Sign up to receive updates about ASAM level of care certification.

Timeline

October 2018

ASAM and CARF announce partnership

 

May 2019

First programs certified as part of the pilot

 

Early 2020

ASAM Level of Care certification launches nationwide

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About CARF

Founded in 1966 as the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, CARF International is an independent, nonprofit accreditor of health and human service providers in the areas of aging services; behavioral health; child and youth services; durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies; employment and community services; medical rehabilitation; and opioid treatment programs. CARF accredits approximately 60,000 programs on five continents and more than 12 million persons of all ages are served annually by CARF-accredited providers. For more information, please visit the CARF International website.

How can my treatment program become certified?

In anticipation of the full launch of ASAM Level of Care certification, ASAM and CARF are piloting the program to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of the ratable elements and certification process. The first phase of the pilot is currently in process. If you would like your treatment program to be considered for the second phase of the pilot, please fill out this form. Once certification has fully launched, any treatment program can apply directly to CARF.

About The ASAM Criteria

The ASAM Criteria is the nation’s most widelyASAM used and comprehensive set of guidelines for placement, continued stay, and transfer/discharge of patients with addiction and co-occurring conditions. Utilized by clinicians and payers across all care settings, the use of the ASAM Criteria is required in more than 30 states. Addiction treatment programs use the criteria to conduct a multi-dimensional patient assessment over five broad levels of treatment that are based on the degree of direct medical management provided, the structure, safety and security provided, and the intensity of treatment services provided. The criteria focuses on six dimensions of patient care to create a holistic, biopsychosocial assessment of an individual. This assessment is used for service planning and treatment across all services and levels of care.