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Rate increase approved for addiction treatment centers

December 19, 2018

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The Executive Council approved an increase in Medicaid reimbursement rates Wednesday for residential addiction treatment providers, who had warned that they might have to eliminate beds and reduce services despite the ongoing opioid crisis.

The drug and alcohol treatment centers had been getting more money since 2014, when the state expanded its Medicaid program by using federal money to put people on private health plans that paid more. But in reauthorizing the program for five years, the state is switching to a managed care model with lower reimbursement rates set by the state.

Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers told the council Wednesday his department was able to increase the rates while staying within its budget, and that compensation for high-intensity, residential addiction services will increase from $162 to $347 per day starting Jan. 1. The department adjusted the rates after looking at the other New England states in addition to states like Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky that also have been hard hit by the crisis.

While New Hampshire’s reimbursement rates for outpatient services were generally in line with other state, its rates for residential treatment were significantly lower, Meyers said.

“We are now very consistent with our surrounding states,” he said.

New Hampshire has one of the nation’s highest rates of overdose deaths. After more than doubling in five years, there were two more fatal overdoses last year — 487 in total — than in 2016. Given those numbers, Councilor Chris Pappas, a Democrat, sought assurances that the reimbursement rate hike would ensure that services would not be cut. The new rates will be in effect for six months, but Meyers said he is confident that ensuring adequate services will be a focus during the next budget process. Republican Gov. Chris Sununu agreed.

“Because we are now paying rates that are commensurate with the surrounding area, there’s no reason to feel that any of the services would be denied or cut because we’re on par with everyone else,” Sununu said.

Cheryl Wilkie, chief operating officer at the Farnum Center in Manchester, called the vote a step in the right direction. But she said the increase excludes covering costs for detox services and does not apply to non-opioid treatment, which accounts for nearly 40 percent of the Medicaid clients it serves.

“This is real progress, but there is still a gap in reimbursements that puts great pressure on nonprofits’ ability to afford to provide this treatment,” she said.

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