‘Road To Recovery Act’ Seeks To Expand Access To Substance Abuse Treatment, Remove Restrictions
The Road To Recovery Act is bipartisan legislation that seeks to “allow states to expand access to inpatient treatment for individuals with substance use disorders, while removing the barriers set forth by the Medicaid Institutions for Mental Disease (IMD) exclusion policy,” according to Addiction Policy Forum.
The site also asks people to contact their Representatives and urge them to support the legislation and help persons who are covered by Medicaid and need addiction treatment to receive it.
The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), and Donald Norcross (D-NJ).
More specifically, the bill will allow Medicaid coverage in residential treatment centers for persons under age 65, and remove the sixteen-bed limit, regardless of the size of the facility. It will also require reviews at least every 60 days to ensure that persons’ needs are met and that there will be no limit to the duration a person can remain in treatment.
The bill also noted that the IMD exclusion is a tremendous barrier for persons with Medicaid coverage and require treatment for substance abuse. The exclusion disallows Medicaid from covering individuals aged 22-64 years in residential treatment facilities that exceed sixteen beds.
In related news, a recent article at Philly.com, penned by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, discusses the opioid epidemic as it pertains to Pennsylvania, and also urges support of the Road To Recovery Act.
The article, called “Let’s increase Medicaid’s ability to cover inpatient treatment for substance abuse” notes that drug overdoses are now the #1 accidental cause of death for Pennsylvania residents.
The authors also stress that the crisis is not just about numbers:
“It’s about real people and families in our communities…Neighbors like Dawn Futrell, from Altoona, who lost her son to heroin after he became addicted to prescribed opioids…Or Pamela Garozzo from Bucks County, whose son, Carlos, battled addiction before dying from an overdose of fentanyl-laced opioids days before Christmas.”
They also note the “significant challenges” to accessing care for addiction and state that is why “…we’re standing together to support the Road to Recovery Act (H.R. 2938).”
Shapiro and Fitzpatrick discuss the exclusion policy, stating that it was enacted to “further deinstitutionalization,” a movement that resulted from the awareness that facilities were subject to horrible overcrowding, poor living conditions, and results that were less-than-effective.
The authors call the policy “well-intentioned” but note that is “time to revisit those rules in light of today’s challenges” and that restricted Medicaid spending results in “states are being handcuffed in their ability to address this epidemic and failing to help the thousands of people who need inpatient treatment…”
Finally, the authors stress that the legislation has obtained “broad support” in the addiction and medical treatment community, as well as law enforcement, and both Democrats and Republicans.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology