State Attorneys Urge Congress To Increase Medicaid Funding And Addiction Treatment Access
A bipartisan coalition formed from a majority of state attorneys general is urging Congress to allow Medicaid funding for large addiction treatment facilities in the U.S. – an action intended to increase access to substance abuse treatment.
In total, 38 states and Washington, D.C. banded together to send a letter to Paul Ryan, Nancy Pelosi, and other Congress leaders. The letter beseeches Congress to terminate the Medicaid Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion, which restricts addiction treatment access for Medicaid recipients.
From the letter:
“As state attorneys general, our offices are on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic. We write today in bipartisan support of HR 2938 (“Road to Recovery Act”), which will expand a key tool in this battle.”
The letter states that the opioid crisis is becoming “dramatically worse.”
The letter then cites recent estimates released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that finds that 65,000 Americans lost their lives to an overdose in 2016, an increase of 24% from 2015.
It goes on to say:
“But we cannot arrest our way out of this problem because it is not just a public safety challenge – it is a public health challenge as well.”
“Drug addiction is a disease, not a crime. If we truly want to end this crisis, we need to focus on its root causes, including a lack of treatment for those suffering from addiction.”
In essence, this exclusion, enacted in 1965, prevents large substance abuse recovery facilities from billing Medicaid for treatment. Under this exclusion, addiction recovery centers with more than 16 beds are not allowed to submit bills for inpatient treatment to Medicaid.
The legislation was originally enacted to ensure federal funds were not used for private mental health facilities that had been suspected of warehousing clients.
However, legislation introduced last summer by Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA) called the “Road To Recovery Act” would allow Medicaid recipients broader access to inpatient treatment at rehab centers.
This Act seeks to maintain the flexibility that states have in employing addiction recovery treatment while guaranteeing that Medicaid enrollees also have access to inpatient care, and is part of the legislative agenda set forth by the House Bipartisan Task Force.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology