Utah pursues Medicaid waiver to improve addiction treatment


Since July, Utah has been seeking a waiver to a Medicaid rule that prohibits the use of federal funds for addiction treatment centers with more than 16 patient beds.

If the state gets the rule waived, people struggling with drug addiction who can’t get treatment due to lack of federal funding would be able to access addiction treatment faster. Currently, waitlists in the state are so long that many people are forced to wait for an unpredictable amount of time to get into treatment. Even if the patients have the money to pay for addiction services, waitlists may get in the way.

The residential drug rehab centers, which are a part of the social safety net in Utah, are usually filled by people who can’t afford treatment at all. This creates an unfortunate situation for many people addicted to drugs who have the monetary resources to seek addiction recovery.

The Utah Department of Health, which didn’t reply to requests for comment, is trying to obtain the waiver to make an exception to the federal funding rule and open access to the addiction recovery clinics that are capable of assisting those in dire need of recovery services.

The waiver of the Medicaid rule could decrease the waitlists, broaden service, increase options at residential treatment facilities, expand resources and funding at drug rehabs, and also facilitate affordability. Larger residential rehabs with more than 16 beds would also open access to those who need treatment with insurance.

They are hopeful that the rule will be waived. The Trump administration has indicated that they will approve waivers if they are similar to previous requests approved from other states. Some that have had their waivers approved were… (continue reading)