Drug treatment centers push for more funding
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Officials of several New Hampshire drug and alcohol treatment centers warned Tuesday that despite the opioid crisis, they will be forced to eliminate beds and reduce services if state officials don’t increase Medicaid reimbursement rates.
The centers received more money in the last few years after the state expanded its Medicaid program in 2014 and used federal money to put people on private health plans that paid more. But the state is switching to a managed care model which could mean a return to lower reimbursement rates.
“We knew that those were great rates (previously) ... and we knew it wouldn’t last forever, we just didn’t know it would crash and burn,” said Larry Gammon, president and CEO of Easterseals NH, which runs the Farnum Center in Manchester and Franklin. Cheryl Wilkie, the center’s chief operating officer, said the pre-2014 rate of $162 per person per day is $112 less than the actual cost.
“New Hampshire has just 312 residential beds and 21 detox beds. Already we are short of what we need, so we do not want to go backward,” Wilkie said. “What is the practical impact? Fewer beds available, long waiting lists and more lives lost.”
When lawmakers approved reauthorizing the expanded Medicaid program earlier this year, the bill included a provision that said in order to combat the opioid drug crisis, the Department of Health and Human Services would make reimbursement rates sufficient to ensure access to all behavioral health services, including “as appropriate,” specific rates for substance use disorder services.
Jeffrey Meyers, the department’s commissioner, said his agency has been meeting with providers and discussing their concerns as officials work(backslash) to develop new rates that will take effect in January.
“In the meantime, the Department will present to the Governor’s office potential ways to reduce the administrative burden that might lower treatment providers’ cost structure,” he said in a statement.
Rachel Behrens, whose 19-year-old son died of a fentanyl overdose last year, said she was grateful he was able to get help when he sought it, even if it didn’t end well.
“He got into the service pipeline immediately. He was taken in and given care when he needed it,” she said. “What if anyone here or out in the state is ready for help and they walk in and it’s not available. ... I don’t want to see great kids, great people, great community members lose their lives.”