State Updates Medicaid to Encourage Addiction Counseling

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has revised the Medicaid reimbursement rates to encourage drug treatment providers to offer more counseling as a part of their services.

As reported in The Baltimore Sun:

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene announced Tuesday that it will reimburse for outpatient counseling separately from methadone treatment beginning next March, opening the door for more patients to get counseling. It also will allow the state to better track whether treatment centers are providing counseling.

The current reimbursement model for methadone treatment lumps drug disbursement and counseling into one category. A clinic is reimbursed a single weekly fee for a patient no matter the number of counseling sessions they attended, methadone treatments they received or other services they used.

Research has shown the best treatment for addicts is a combination of counseling and the use of methadone or buprenorphine, medications used to wean people off heroin and other narcotics without causing them to feel high or suffer painful withdrawal symptoms, state health officials said.

By separating counseling services, the new method allows for higher reimbursement payments for those services. Counseling is reimbursed at various rates depending on the intensity of the treatment.

The article notes the reimbursement split was revised in the final proposal to address controversy surrounding the reduction for methadone treatment to $42 per week. The final proposal calls for a $63 per week reimbursement.

The reimbursement changes aligns with recommendations of the 2015 Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force chaired by Lt. Governor Rutherford

For more information read the full article in The Baltimore Sun