Attorney General Shapiro Commends Bipartisan Legislation to Increase Access to Addiction Treatment

June 21, 2017 | Topic: Opioids

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro today commended a bipartisan group of legislators for introducing a proposed law that would increase access to addiction treatment, a top priority of Attorney General Shapiro.

Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH) and Donald Norcross (D-NJ) introduced the Road to Recovery Act – bipartisan legislation that would eliminate the Medicaid Institutions for Mental Diseases exclusion for substance use disorder and help states expand access to inpatient treatment for its enrollees.

“Heroin and opioids are the number one public health and safety threat in Pennsylvania and we can’t arrest our way out of this epidemic – we need more access to treatment,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “I commend Representative Fitzpatrick, who worked with Pennsylvania law enforcement to craft this legislation, for being a leader in fighting this crisis. This bill will remove bureaucratic barriers to treatment so everyday Americans can get the help they need.”

The Medicaid Institutions for Mental Diseases exclusion is a long-standing policy that prohibits federal Medicaid matching funds to states for services rendered to Medicaid-eligible patients for substance use disorder and mental health treatment. Some states – including Pennsylvania – have used an “in lieu of services” provision allowing for inpatient treatment, but with limitations on patient population, facility size and length of stay. These limitations disproportionately affect Medicaid recipients.

Nationwide and in Pennsylvania, opioids – prescription and illicit – are the main driver of drug overdose deaths. Pennsylvania saw 4,642 fatal drug overdoses in 2016 – a 37 percent increase over 2015.

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