Republican Proposed Medicaid Cuts Endanger Addiction Treatment: Experts

Cuts to Medicaid proposed by Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate jeopardize addiction treatment, NPR reports.

In Pennsylvania, more than 124,000 residents depend on Medicaid for addiction treatment. The state’s Medicaid program currently pays for addiction treatment with Vivitrol, a monthly injection that costs about $1,000 a dose. A person receiving the shots also has weekly therapy sessions and visits with a recovery coach, also paid for by Medicaid. Pennsylvania, which expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, pays no more than 10 percent of costs for patients who gained coverage under the expansion. The federal government funds the rest.

Full story of proposed Medicaid cuts and addiction treatment at drugfree.org

Some State Medicaid Programs Pay Providers for More Addiction Counseling

Some state Medicaid programs are beginning to pay addiction treatment centers for as much counseling and related medical services as are needed for patients. The move is intended to encourage centers to offer more counseling, according to Stateline.

Maryland, New York, California and New Jersey are using the new fee structure, the article notes. There is a growing consensus among experts that patients who receive a combination of addiction medicine and counseling have better outcomes than those who receive only one or the other.

Full story of state Medicaid programs and addiction counseling at drugfree.org

96,000 Inmates in Halfway Houses After Prison Release Will be Eligible for Medicaid

A new federal policy will allow 96,000 inmates in halfway houses after release from prison to be eligible for Medicaid benefits, according to USA Today. The policy will allow the former inmates access to treatment for addiction and mental health issues in states that have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Federal officials said the policy clarifies that people on probation, parole or under home confinement are not considered incarcerated for the purposes of Medicaid coverage. Most people in the criminal justice system are not insured. About half of those who are incarcerated have mental health and substance use disorders, the article notes.

Currently 30 states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Louisiana, which has the highest rate of incarceration in the nation, will be the next state to expand Medicaid.

Full story of inmates in halfway homes eligible for Medicaid at drugfree.org

Medicaid Proposes to Cover 15 Days of Inpatient Addiction Treatment Per Month

Medicaid would cover 15 days of inpatient addiction treatment per month under a new proposed plan by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs the program. Inpatient rehab would be covered for anyone enrolled in a Medicaid managed care plan.

Until now, people on Medicaid generally have had to rely on funds from state and local sources for drug or alcohol treatment, NPR reports.

Some treatment providers say the plan doesn’t go far enough. “Where they came up with the 15 days, I don’t know, but it’s not based on research,” said Mike Harle, head of the nonprofit treatment program Gaudenzia, which serves about 20,000 patients a year in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware. He said 15 days is not enough to achieve a positive outcome. “Do you know how expensive that would be, with no outcome?” he said.

Full story of Medicaid to cover addiction treatment at drugfree.org

Oregon Will Fund Alternative Pain Treatments for Patients with Medicaid

Oregon will fund many alternative pain treatments for patients covered by the state’s version of Medicaid starting in January, NPR reports. The state hopes to reduce the number of people who become addicted to opioids or abuse them.

Medicaid traditionally has dealt with back pain through bed rest and prescription painkillers, according to Denise Taray, Coordinator of the Oregon Pain Management Commission. “The only thing that might have been covered in the past was narcotics,” she said. “But treatments such as acupuncture, chiropractic, massage therapy, physical therapy and rehab would never have been covered.”

Taray says pain pills aren’t always as effective as people think. “Research is out there that suggests that with back conditions we’re spending a lot of money on health care treatments and services that aren’t improving outcomes,” she said. While Oregon has not found overwhelming evidence that alternative treatment such as yoga or acupuncture are more effective than other treatments, at least they don’t involve drugs, she said.

Full story of Oregon and alternative pain treatments with Medicaid at drugfree.org