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ASAM Level of Care Certification Phase One Pilot Results

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The ASAM Level of Care certification, created in partnership with CARF International (CARF), will provide an independent, comprehensive assessment of an addiction treatment program’s capacity to deliver services consistent with the Levels of Care described in The ASAM Criteria®.  The certification will help patients and payers identify treatment programs that are capable of delivering evidence-based care. 

Phase One of the ASAM Level of Care certification pilot was successfully completed in May 2019 with seven addiction treatment programs achieving the certification. Geisinger Marworth in Waverly, Pennsylvania and Origins Behavioral HealthCare of Florida, LLC, in West Palm Beach, Florida received certification for ASAM Level of Care 3.7. Asana Recovery in Costa Mesa, California; Volunteers of America Mid-States’ Freedom House in Louisville, Kentucky; Pyramid Healthcare’s Hillside Inpatient in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania; Richard J. Caron Foundation (Caron Treatment Center) in Wernersville, Pennsylvania; and Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana’s Theodora House in Indianapolis, Indiana received certification for ASAM Level of Care 3.5. All certified treatment programs—including pilot programs—will be listed in a publicly available database by searching “ASAM” at http://carf.org/providerSearch.aspx.

The purpose of the first phase of the pilot was to test the ratable certification elements and certification process, including the proprietary scoring methodology.  Based on the analysis of the Phase One results, adjustments were made that will apply to Phase Two of the pilot. For example:

  • Elements addressing staff training and access to medications for opioid use disorder were further clarified.
  • A new element was added to address referral for continued access to substance use disorder medications upon transfer to a new program.
  • A new element was created focusing on staff ethics.

Specifically, the ratable element that addresses access to opioid use disorder medication was clarified to stipulate that certified programs must provide at least one agonist and one antagonist medication for the treatment of opioid use disorder. This element is a defining element, meaning it will be required to achieve certification, for all applicants to the ASAM Level of Care Certification program starting with Phase Two of the pilot.

When the ratable elements for certification are next updated (in approximately 2-3 years) ASAM intends to update this element to require programs to provide access to all FDA approved medications for the treatment of opioid use disorder.

Programs that achieved certification in Phase One, before the medication requirement was clarified, will have 90 days following certification to submit an action plan to CARF describing how they will meet the modified ratable element. After 90 days, they will be required to submit yearly updates on their action plan and attest that they are continuing to meet all certification program requirements.

Phase Two of the pilot, starting this summer, will test the enhancements made to the ratable elements and certification process based on the results of Phase One. Approximately 30 additional programs will be evaluated in Phase Two, promoting the accuracy and efficiency of the certification process in a wider variety of settings and situations, including diverse program locations, sizes, payer mix, regulatory environments, and accreditation status. In addition, it will evaluate the process for certifying a single program for multiple levels of care.

CARF and ASAM anticipate announcing national launch of the ASAM Level of Care certification by the end of the year. Upon launch, ASAM will offer trainings and publications to help treatment programs prepare for certification and strengthen their capacity to deliver evidence-based care in alignment with The ASAM Criteria standards.