June 22, 2021
Area(s) of Interest: Public Health
LAGS Medical Centers, a chain of 38 high-volume pain management clinics operating in 25 counties with nearly 30,000 patients across California and Nevada, abruptly closed last month.
On May 19, the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) temporarily suspended select LAGS locations from participation in the Medi-Cal program because of an ongoing investigation by the California Department of Justice, Division of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse.
DHCS is working with health plans and community organizations to create transition plans for the patients. However, DHCS anticipates that many patients may have difficulty obtaining new pain management providers, given the suddenness of the clinic closures, the national shortage of pain management providers and the high volume of affected patients.
DHCS is encouraging providers in the affected counties— Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Kern, Tulare, Kings, Monterey, Santa Cruz, Fresno, Madera, Merced, Alameda, Stanislaus, San Joaquin and Sacramento—to consider accepting new patients into their practices.
Some of these patients may be on long-term opioid therapy for chronic pain, a serious challenge for nearby providers. DHCS is particularly concerned about patients dependent on controlled medications, as these patients are at high risk of decompensation and accidental overdose if this transition is not carefully managed.
To help providers connect affected patients to needed resources, the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s Center for Innovation in Academic Detailing on Opioids (CIAO) is hosting a free webinar to share information and clinical tools about inheriting patients on opioid therapy, ensuring continuity of care and utilizing buprenorphine.
Physicians who have received patient transfer requests or are otherwise affected by these closures, are encouraged to join CIAO on Zoom on Wednesday, June 23, 2021, from 12-1 p.m. Providers can also register for a one-on-one informational session with CIAO’s clinician trainers to discuss these topics at ciaosf.org/contact-us.