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AG Derek Schmidt urges congressional leaders to make drug addiction treatment more affordable and accessible

Release Date: Oct 03, 2017

TOPEKA – (October 3, 2017) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has joined with 38 other state attorneys general in urging congressional leaders to pass legislation that changes federal law to make treatment for drug addiction more affordable and accessible for Americans who most need it.

In a letter sent yesterday to bipartisan congressional leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives, the attorneys general urge passage of the “Road to Recovery Act” legislation that will increase access to treatment for opioid addiction by removing a more than 50-year-old provision in the Medicaid program that currently acts as a barrier to residential addiction treatment. The bill addresses the “Institutions for Mental Diseases” (IMD) exclusion, which was created in the original 1965 Medicaid legislation, to prevent the funding of large, residential mental health facilities. While the exclusion led to the closure of what were, in many cases, inhumane institutions, it now has the unintended effect of limiting Medicaid funding for residential treatment facilities, which can be one of the most effective ways to treat drug addiction.

The “Road to Recovery Act” will remove the exclusion for addiction treatment facilities only. This will help open new avenues for addiction treatment while maintaining appropriate restrictions on mental health facilities.

The opioid epidemic has become a major public health and public safety issue in the United States with the number of opioid prescriptions quadrupling since 1999. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates opioid overdoses kill 91 Americans every single day.

“We need more options in Kansas and across the nation for treatment of people who are drug addicted,” Schmidt said. “The Road to Recovery Act will help those struggling with addiction gain access to treatment and eliminate an outdated Medicaid rule that limits residential treatment options.”

The change in the law is supported by health care providers, insurers, treatment centers, governors and the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.

A copy of the letter can be found at http://bit.ly/2ymZOoh .

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