Changes in For-Profit Medication-Assisted Therapy Clinics in an Appalachian City

Document Type


Publication Date



Objectives This study is a follow-up to previous research regarding buprenorphine medication-assisted therapy (MAT) in Johnson City, Tennessee. For-profit MAT clinics were surveyed to determine changes in tapering practice patterns and insurance coverage during the last 3 years. Methods Johnson City for-profit MAT clinics; also called office based opioid treatment centers, were surveyed by telephone. Clinic representatives were asked questions regarding patient costs for therapy, insurance coverage, counseling offered onsite, and opportunities for tapering while pregnant. Results All of the MAT clinics representatives indicated that tapering in pregnancy could be considered even though tapering in pregnancy is contrary to current national guidelines. Forty-three percent of the clinics now accept insurance as compared with 0% in the 2016 study. The average weekly cost per visit remained consistent. Conclusions The concept of tapering buprenorphine during pregnancy appears to have become a standard of care for this community, as representatives state it is offered at all of the clinics that were contacted. Representatives from three clinics stated the clinics require tapering, even though national organizations such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society of Addiction Medicine do not recommend this approach. Although patients who have government or other insurance are now able to obtain buprenorphine with no expense at numerous clinics, the high cost for uninsured patients continues to create an environment conducive to buprenorphine diversion.