Behavioral Health: The MAT Market At-A-Glance

Vertical: Behavioral Health
Author: JC Lupis
Date: October 2019

Behavioral health has been one of the hottest sectors in healthcare mergers and acquisitions (M&A) over the past few years. Private equity sponsors in particular have taken a strong interest in the area, buying platform groups and executing tuck-in acquisitions. Within the behavioral health market, the substance abuse disorder segment has emerged as the most active of late, totaling 24 transactions during the first half of the year by one count. The addiction treatment industry is large ($35 billion in annual revenue) and highly fragmented, encompassing thousands of small clinics and providers. MAT deals are driving growth in this market and taking a larger share of transactions as recognition of MAT’s benefits increase. The market remains ripe for consolidation, as a dearth of large, high-quality providers remains.

MAT Market Tailwinds

• Unfortunately, the prevalence of opioid abuse continues to be high. On the positive side, the national attention given to the epidemic has led to a destigmatization of addiction and a wave of investment in treatment facilities. Even so, only 11% of people who needed substance abuse treatment last year received treatment at a specialty facility, indicating room for expansion.
• There is a growing realization of MAT’s effectiveness: compared to treatment without medication, MAT boosts treatment engagement and outcomes while reducing cravings, illicit substance abuse, and mortality rates. An increasing number of physicians have gained practitioner waivers, more patients are receiving pharmacotherapy, and there is a regulatory trend towards expanded access to MAT.
• MAT’s typical use in an outpatient setting – as well as its lower cost and higher availability of data than other treatment options – makes it attractive to commercial payers.

MAT Market Headwinds

• Despite expanded access to MAT, reimbursement scrutiny is high, and the removal of pre- authorization barriers remains piecemeal.
• Patients – particularly in rural areas (which have been the hardest hit) – face difficulties accessing treatment. Unethical practices (e.g. excessive urinalyses, patient brokering, and kickbacks) have tarnished the industry’s reputation and made treatment center marketing more difficult.
• A move to value-based reimbursements has not yet fully materialized, as providers are lagging in their use of patient data to measure outcomes and inform treatment.

MAT Market: Key Chart

Number of Outpatient Substance Abuse Treatment Facilities Offering MAT


MAT Market: Key Data Point

For-profit organizations operated 38% of substance abuse treatment facilities in 2018 (up from 29% in 2008) and an outsized 59% of facilities with opioid treatment programs (OTPs).

Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (N- SSATS): 2018, September 2019

GHA’s MAT Market Brief includes the following sections:

  • MAT Market-At-A-Glance
  • Substance Abuse Market Trends
  • Key Substance Abuse and MAT Market Data
  • Access and Compliance Issues
  • The Mergers & Acquisitions Landscape

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