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Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

Congressional Briefing Highlights Medicaid’s Role in Addiction Treatment

December 14, 2017 | Addictions | Medicaid | Comments
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On Wednesday, the Partnership for Medicaid, a coalition that includes the National Council, hosted a Congressional briefing on the importance of Medicaid in supporting innovative addiction care. The day’s discussion focused on how Medicaid provides individuals with substance use disorders access to comprehensive care that not only addresses their addiction, but their physical and mental health needs. The briefing featured testimony from National Council member Mark Miller of Swope Health Services, who highlighted how Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) are leading the way in behavioral health care innovation and expanding access to addiction treatment.

Medicaid in the Community

Honorable Deborah Lieberman, County Commissioner of Montgomery County, Ohio described how Medicaid has been a critical tool in their community’s efforts to curb addiction and reduce overdose deaths. Montgomery County, which includes the City of Dayton, has one of the highest unintentional drug overdose death rates in the country. Commissioner Lieberman noted that Medicaid, especially Medicaid expansion, is providing the funding needed to expand the county’s addiction treatment system. Over the last year, Medicaid helped Montgomery County expand their detoxification and residential treatment beds, increase the number of certified peer support specialists, and add more recovery housing.

Medicaid Treats the Whole Person

Mark Miller, Vice President of Behavioral Health at Swope Health Services in Kansas City, Missouri, offered insights into what Medicaid means for a community mental health and addiction treatment provider. Miller reported that his clinic uses both Medicaid and grant funding to finance addiction care, but that there are huge differences in what these funding streams can do for patients.

With grants, there are limits on who qualifies for services and what types of services they can receive, but Medicaid can address all of a person’s chronic conditions, as Miller explained. Rosalind McCrory, a Medicaid patient advocate, shared her own personal experience of how Medicaid coverage allowed her to receive treatment for both her substance use and underlying mental health condition, drug use was only symptomatic of what was really going on with me – because of Medicaid I finally got treatment to address the entire me.”

Innovation in Medicaid: CCBHCs Expanding Addiction Treatment

Dr. Mishka Terplan, Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University and addiction medicine specialist, urged attendees to develop policy solutions that address how more addiction treatment capacity is needed across all types of addiction, not just opioid addiction. Mark Miller pointed to the Certified Community Mental Health Clinics (CCBHCs) program, a new Medicaid innovation, as a solution that is adding significant treatment capacity in his community.

In just the first six months of becoming a CCBHC, Miller explained that Swope Health Services has hired new addiction-focused staff, expanded substance use services to adolescents, added a buprenorphine program, and reduced wait times for treatment. Eight states are currently participating in the CCBHC program, where community-based clinics are bringing together all the elements of mental health and substance use care integrated with primary care in exchange for a more flexible Medicaid payment rate.

Support the National Council’s efforts to bring the CCBHC program to more states by clicking here.