With the growing drug epidemic in American today, states are wondering what can be done to help get their citizens off drugs and back on track. California is taking a step in a new direction, one they hope will help low-income people find freedom from addiction. In a story recently posted on NPR, it was reported California is overhauling its entire substance abuse treatment system for these types of residents, creating a five-year experiment that will help addicts find a smoother path from detoxing to recovery.
California is the first state to receive federal permission to revamp its drug and alcohol treatment for beneficiaries of Medicaid, known as Medi-Cal in California, the article points out. "Through what's known as a drug waiver, state officials will have new spending flexibility as they try to help people get sober and reduce social and financial costs of people with substance abuse disorders." It's noted that some 14 percent of Medicaid recipients are said to have substance abuse problems.
What these new waivers will do is expand treatment services, including inpatient care, case management, recovery services and added medication. Drug treatment centers will be reimbursed in 2016 for expanding these options to those on Medi-Cal. Currently, as the article points out, few low-income residents in California receive treatment, mostly because of restrictions on what Medicaid will cover.
The revamped system is part of the Affordable Care Act, which, as the article points out, "required that substance abuse treatment be covered for people newly insured through Medicaid or insurance exchanges. The health law allowed states to expand Medicaid to cover millions more people."
As for rehab centers, their outlook on the new program is a positive one, however, hesitations remain that the "state won't raise the traditionally low Medi-Cal reimbursement rates for treatment, making it harder to provide services and produce the outcomes California is hoping for." In order to make the program a success, Medi-Cal rates have to go up. But it's a start. And with five years of the program approved, there's always room for improvement. With California leading the way, other states are sure to follow in this quest for a cure.
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