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DHHR’s Medicaid program to expand substance use treatment and services


The Register-Herald

BECKLEY, W.Va. — Those West Virginians who are battling substance abuse disorder (SAD) will now have more services available under Medicaid as the recover from addiction, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), Bureau for Medical Services Commissioner Cindy Beane said Tuesday.

A Medicaid 115 waiver, granted from the United States Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), will allow the state to provide options that weren’t available in the past, said Beane.

Championed by Gov. Jim Justice, the waiver is part of a comprehensive statewide strategy to combat prescription drug abuse and opioid use disorders. It will allow West Virginia to cover methadone, naloxone, peer recovery support, withdrawal management and short-term residential services to all Medicaid enrollees.

“Once somebody has had their residential treatment and outpatient treatment and in recovery and need the peer support, the program will also pay for that,” Beane said. “The big thing about the waiver is that it takes the whole Medicaid substance abuse disorder program and expands it so we can provide treatments and services for individuals at the right time, the right place and in the right order.

The waiver also allows Medicaid members to be treated in facilities that have more than 16 beds, Beane said.

While the waiver doesn’t allow Medicaid to pay for long-term recovery programs, which many SAD patients have reported is essential to recovery, Beane said it will pay for some of the support services available in a recovery house, once a patient has completed a short-term program and enrolls in a recovery house.

“This waiver allows the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources to more effectively prevent and treat substance use issues for Medicaid enrollees through expanded treatment services,” said Beane. “This is another important tool in West Virginia’s fight against substance abuse under the leadership of Governor Jim Justice who has championed this strategy.”

Justice responded to CMS approval of the waiver.

“West Virginia is number one across the nation in overdose deaths,” Gov. Justice said. “Since this waiver is funded more than 80 percent by the federal government, it’s critical to protect our Medicaid budget so our state can meet its federal obligation for these vital services.

“We need to help our people get the care they need to get their lives back on track and stop these senseless overdose deaths.”

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sen. Shelly Moore Capito, R-W.Va., pushed for the approval of the waiver, according to WVDHHR Cabinet Secretary Bill Crouch.

Following the announcement, Manchin responded, “An important part of ending the opioid epidemic is making sure that people struggling with opioid abuse have access to substance abuse treatment. That’s why I am thrilled CMS has approved West Virginia’s waiver to expand Medicaid coverage, including increasing access to inpatient treatment and peer support services.”

Capito said, “States need flexibility to customize their Medicaid programs, and, in West Virginia’s case, we need to direct resources to address our state’s deadly opioid epidemic. Thanks to CMS Administrator Verma for heeding my calls and working with me to approve West Virginia’s request for this waiver. With it, those who are suffering from addiction will now have access to expanded services.”

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