Drug treatment providers say Medicaid reimbursement rate must be increased

New Hampshire’s nonprofit drug treatment providers issued a dire warning Tuesday, calling on the state to change how it funds treatment for lower-income patients on Medicaid.

The providers said that cuts in services for people seeking addiction treatment will be unavoidable if the state does not increase Medicaid reimbursement rates.

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“We knew it wouldn’t last forever, we just didn’t know it would crash and burn,” said Larry Gammon, Easter Seals president and CEO.

The drug treatment providers said that if the state doesn’t do something to boost the Medicaid reimbursement rate for substance use disorder services, they’ll be in full retreat, losing inpatient beds.

“We would have to be more selective regarding who we put into those beds moving forward,” said Sharon Drake of SENH Drug & Alcohol Abuse Services. “That’s cherry-picking who we get to serve and who we don’t get to serve. That’s not fair. That means people will die because we made a decision.”

The current Medicaid reimbursement is $162.60 per patient, per day, far short of the full cost, providers said. The difference has been covered through Medicaid expansion’s presence on the private insurance exchange, but the coming transition to a managed care model means the old rates will be all that’s left.

An appeal is being made to the governor and state health officials for an extra $10 million per year to fill the gap and at least maintain treatment services as they are.

“Don’t cut us off at the knees. We’re not asking for a lot. We’re just asking for appropriate rates for people coming in in such need,” Manchester Fire Chief Dan Goonan said.

Treatment centers argue the cost of the increase is far less than the potential cost to society.

“I think it’s the legislators’ and the voters’ choice as to whether they want to fund treatment or if they want to fund things like incarceration,” Eric Spofford, of Granite Recovery Centers, said.

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