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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Congresswoman Fudge Hosts Breaking Addiction Act Briefing

September 24, 2014 | Addictions | Comments
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September 18, Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (D-OH) hosted a congressional briefing on the Breaking Addiction Act, her legislation to improve Medicaid coverage of residential substance use treatment services.

Current Medicaid law does not permit federal reimbursement for services provided in residential settings known as “institutes for mental disease (IMD)” – an exclusion that inhibits patients’ access to substance use care in short term residential treatment centers. At the briefing, Wendy Doolittle, CEO of McKinley Hall in Springfield, OH (a National Council member organization) testified about the burden this exclusion imposes on patients and providers. She explained that the payment exclusion has created a bottleneck for patients, who are waitlisted for care because of a shortage of beds – often with disastrous consequences for their health.

The National Council’s Becky Vaughn moderated the briefing, which also featured Steve Baron, Director of the District of Columbia Department of Behavioral Health and Dr. William Lawson, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Howard University College of Medicine. Panelists made the case that the Medicaid payment exclusion limits providers’ options in referring patients to the most appropriate treatment setting, imposes difficulties on states in the administration of their Medicaid programs, and shifts the burden of care from community treatment organizations to prisons and jails.

The Breaking Addiction Act would establish an exemption under which federal Medicaid payments could be made to residential substance use centers that meet the definition of an IMD. The National Council supports this legislation. We encourage readers to ask their Members of Congress to cosponsor the bill. Click here to send a short message today.