A bipartisan group of senators on Wednesday introduced a bill that would allow more substance abuse treatment center to receive Medicaid payments.
The legislation would enable treatment facilities with up to 40 beds to be reimbursed by Medicaid for 60 consecutive days of inpatient services. If passed, the bill would modify the Medicaid Institutions for Mental Disease law, which currently only allows Medicaid coverage for facilities with less than 16 beds.
This law, which was enacted in 1965, was intended to discourage the long-term institutionalization of those with mental illness. But the Senate sponsors of the bill say the rule is now an outdated barrier to treatment.
The bill, called the Medicaid Coverage for Addiction Recovery Expansion Act, is sponsored by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine).
All of the senators said their states have been particularly impacted by the opioid epidemic and would benefit from the proposed law.
"Red tape shouldn't keep Ohioans from needed treatment and this simple fix will provide real relief to those struggling with addiction," Brown said.
Data from Illinois shows that the law would expand Medicaid beneficiaries' access to an additional 18 facilities in the state.
The legislation also establishes a $50 million grant for substance abuse services that treat Medicaid beneficiaries under 21 years old. The grant will focus particularly on services available in rural communities.
The bill is endorsed by the National Council for Behavioral Health, Treatment Communities for America and Mental Health America.