Change to law will make drug treatment options more available to Oklahomans
OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter has signed a bipartisan letter with 38 other attorneys general and the National Association of Attorneys General, calling on Congress to pass the Road to Recovery Act.
The legislation eliminates the Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion from the original Medicaid law, which currently acts as a barrier to residential addiction treatment. The elimination will help increase access to treatment for opioid addiction and help states expand access to inpatient treatment for Medicaid enrollees.
Attorney General Hunter, who has been at the forefront combating the state’s opioid epidemic, said the legislation will make treatment for Oklahomans who need it more accessible.
“The Road to Recovery Act will help save lives,” Attorney General Hunter said. “To combat the disease of addiction, we must commit to working together with our local, state and federal partners to find more treatment options for those already addicted. This legislation is a step in the right direction. My colleagues and I urge Congress to sign this bill to eliminate an archaic Medicaid rule, so we can better help the scores of individuals who are in need.”
A recent study reveals that drug overdoses claimed as many as 65,000 American lives in 2016, a 24 percent increase from the year before. In Oklahoma, nearly 3,000 have died in the last three years as the result of a drug overdose.
Created in 1965 with the original Medicaid legislation, the IMD exclusion prevented the funding of large, residential mental health facilities. While the exclusion led to the closure of what were, in many cases, inhumane institutions, it now has the unintended effect of limiting Medicaid funding for residential treatment facilities, which can be one of the most effective ways to treat drug addiction.
The Road to Recovery Act will remove the exclusion for addiction treatment facilities only. This will help open new avenues for addiction treatment while maintaining appropriate restrictions on mental health facilities.
The change in the law is supported by health care providers, insurers, treatment centers, governors of both political parties and the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.