In Opioid Declaration, Trump Promises to Speed Medicaid Waivers for More Beds

By: - October 27, 2017 12:00 am

Anthony Green writes a letter in his room at a Gaudenzia treatment center in Baltimore. Maryland is one of four states with federal permission to use Medicaid dollars to expand residential addiction treatment in response to the opioid epidemic. President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration on the opioid crisis promises to similarly expand bed access.

© The Pew Charitable Trusts

In declaring the opioid crisis a public health emergency, President Donald Trump promised a variety of initiatives aimed at making more treatment available to people who are addicted to heroin and prescription pain pills.

Although federal emergency funds have been nearly depleted because of rescue and recovery efforts following this year’s hurricanes, Trump outlined a number of measures that would make it easier for states to get and use federal money to provide more addiction treatment.

One such measure would waive an antiquated Medicaid rule that prevents treatment facilities with more than 16 beds from receiving reimbursements for addiction services. California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and West Virginia already have received such a waiver. Several other states, including Arizona, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Utah and Virginia, have also asked for a waiver.

The move could mean millions of new federal Medicaid dollars would flow to treatment centers that now rely on limited state and local grants.

More federal money would allow small treatment facilities to expand and make their residential addiction treatment services available to low-income people who are disproportionately affected by the epidemic. In his announcement, Trump also said the federal government would give states more flexibility in using other federal grants for opioid addiction prevention and treatment.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Christine Vestal

Christine Vestal covers mental health and drug addiction for Stateline. Previously, she covered health care for McGraw-Hill and the Financial Times.