States Facing Bed Shortages For Opioid Crisis Turn To Waiver From Obscure Medicaid Rule
An outdated Medicaid regulation -- intended to discourage “institutions for mental disease” -- prohibits the use of federal dollars for addiction treatment provided in facilities with more than 16 beds.
States Seek Medicaid Dollars For Addiction Treatment Beds
But in the throes of an opioid epidemic that killed more than 33,000 people in 2015 alone, the nation’s supply of residential treatment slots falls far short of the number needed to serve everyone who walks in, gets dropped off by police, or is transferred from a hospital or crisis center. Waitlists persist almost everywhere, primarily because of a growing number of people addicted to heroin and prescription painkillers. To boost the number of beds available for low-income residents, the federal government has granted California, Maryland, Massachusetts and New York a waiver of an obscure Medicaid rule that prohibits the use of federal dollars for addiction treatment provided in facilities with more than 16 beds. (Vestal, 4/5)