State opens up substance use disorder benefit to over 140,000 Medicaid patients

 Monitor staff
Published: 7/2/2016 12:33:10 AM

All New Hampshire Medicaid recipients will have expanded access to substance use disorder benefits this month.

The state Department of Health and Human Services is expanding its substance use disorder coverage to over 140,000 Medicaid participants in the state, up from the 49,000 who accessed it previously.

The benefit is part of a $6.6 million Medicaid plan that is being paid for by matching state and federal money – $3.3 million from each.

The move comes after the state Legislature reauthorized the state’s New Hampshire Health Protection Program, its version of expanded Medicaid, earlier this year.

Medicaid recipients either in the state’s fee-for-service plan, New Hampshire Healthy Families or the Well Sense Health Plan will be eligible for the substance abuse benefit on and after Friday.

Services including assessment, outpatient services, residential treatment, opioid treatment programs including methadone and suboxone, recovery support services and recovery monitoring will be covered under the benefit.

New Hampshire has been working to expand its access to treatment, after long having one of the lowest treatment capacities in the nation.

So far, HHS doesn’t have metrics to show if the state has made significant additions to its treatment programs.

However, officials say they have been receiving a lot of queries from interested providers looking to bring more drug and alcohol treatment programs into the state.

“The phone has been ringing, some very bright people are coming to the state to offer treatment,” said Michael Rogers, assistant administrator for the Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services at HHS.

Rogers said providers are working collaboratively with his department to look at where the drug problem is worst in the state and what types of treatment are lacking.

He said providers are looking at Manchester, Nashua and the Seacoast as some of the areas hardest-hit by the opioid epidemic that could benefit from more treatment providers.

“We’re looking at the broad spectrum . . . and trying to build the infrastructure to handle whatever needs are there,” Rogers said, adding that there seems to be many more interested participants getting involved in the process.

The increased benefits drew praise from Gov. Maggie Hassan and HHS Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers.

“Last year, we worked together across party lines to reauthorize our bipartisan New Hampshire Health Protection Program, which has provided substance misuse and behavioral health services to thousands of Granite Staters,” Hassan said in a statement, “and today, we take the important step to extend that same critical coverage to our traditional Medicaid population as well.”

Meyers thanked the governor and the Legislature for extending the substance use disorder benefit to all Medicaid recipients.

“As the state continues to provide additional resources and expand treatment capacity, this is an important milestone in New Hampshire’s response to the opioid addiction crisis,” Meyers said in a statement.

(Ella Nilsen can be reached at 369-3322, or on Twitter @ella_nilsen.)


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