Virginia Might Consider Enhancing Medicaid Coverage of Substance Abuse Services

According to Dierdre Pearson, who looks after a substance abuse treatment program for women at the Richmond Behavioral Health Authority, the cost involved in treating substance abuse is quite high, but if it is left untreated, its impact may worsen.

While speaking at a public hearing on a proposal to enhance Medicaid coverage of substance abuse services, Pearson said in a statement that she everyday sees women who are in high need of help which they do not get due to lack of funding.

The hearing held on Tuesday in western Henrico County was part of the meetings that were conducted all over the state to known what view public has about the proposal.

“I see women who would be able to be treated on outpatient basis but are hospitalized because services are not available. We provide services for 100 to 150 women annually, but there are many more who need what we have to offer”, Pearson said.

Karen Kimsey, deputy director of Complex Care Services for the state Medicaid agency, said the reason for which higher number of children enters foster care in Virginia is the negligence due to a mother’s substance abuse.

Kimsey, also a moderator of the public hearing, explained some of the enhancements in Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s proposed budget. Some of those include expanding access to short-term inpatient detox and short-term residential treatment to all Medicaid members, etc. Medicaid now even covers addiction treatment for children and pregnant women on a limited basis.

If the governor’s proposals are funded, it will put the state in position where it will have to apply for a federal demonstration waiver that would allow an even broader range of services, said Kimsey.

Mellie Randall, director of the Office of Substance Abuse Services for the state mental health agency, said arresting people is not the best way to cure people with addicted problems.

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