Author: Justin Mckibben
When we talk about national addiction recovery, what we mean is acknowledging how we as a country and a culture are recovering in our communities. How are we supporting those in addiction treatment? What services are we making available? How is our economy recovering? What are we doing to prevent the spread of addiction?
So if we are taking away resources that not only treat those already struggling, but also prevent more people from suffering, how do we expect to ever escape the devastation caused by the opioid epidemic and rise of overdose deaths?
One of the most divisive issues facing America today is access to healthcare and the extent to which health coverage should or should not be provided. The debate has gone on for a long time, and in the shuffle of each proposal, it seems mental health and addiction services are constantly threatened. Recently there have been more attacks on addiction treatment access. So how is the possibility of more decreases in health coverage going to hurt national addiction recovery?
The Parity Protections
Once upon a time in 2008, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) created guidelines that required health insurers to treat mental health and addiction coverage exactly the same as they would with medical and surgical care options. So this means that prior to the MHPAEA those who were lucky enough to have health insurance still could not be guaranteed to receive equitable benefits for mental health or substance abuse care.
These protections were even further expanded by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and legislation put forth by Congress in 2016 with the 21st Century Cures Act, which includes tougher enforcement of parity requirements.
Since the Trump administration stepped in adamantly proclaiming the goal or repealing and replacing the ACA there has been a lot of concern about whether or not any new proposals will decrease health coverage for mental health and addiction services. Many addiction and mental health advocates worry that parity protections and enforcement will also lose their power.
As of yet, politicians are still hoping for a compromise that will keep the protections and resources for treating addiction and mental health intact.
BCBS Cuts Mental Health Coverage
One instance of concerning changes in policy has come out of Minnesota. Just this September the largest insurance carrier in the area, Blue Cross Blue Shield, is making drastic decreases to payments to mental health providers.
We are talking about cuts in addiction and mental health coverage to the tune of that’s 33%!
This decision came after a recent survey showed that the individual therapy costs of Minnesota had exceeded the national average for the last two years. But mental health professionals immediately spoke out against this move. Protests actually took place on Thursday the 14th outside the headquarters of Blue Cross Blue Shield in Eagan, MN. Many advocates and protesters are saying these kinds of cuts will put mental health clinics out of business.
The insurance provider is now under fire as caregivers insist this change will discourage necessary, extended psychotherapy services. People in Minnesota see decisions like that of BCBS as being a violation of the protections offered by parity.
If this kind of policy shift within insurance providers becomes a trend, we could see a dramatic decrease in the people getting substance abuse and mental health treatment. These changes can hurt our national addiction recovery by slowly cutting off the people who need every chance they can get, especially during a devastating opioid epidemic.
Threats within Medicaid
Believe it or not, Medicaid is currently the single largest payer for behavioral health services in America. Threats to the Medicaid health coverage of services like this could do critical damage.
At one point the Trump administration and congressional leaders seemed partial to the idea of turning Medicaid into a block grant program. This strategy would give states a fixed amount of money to provide healthcare for low-income residents. However, policy experts say that means states would have to:
- Reduce eligibility
- Narrow the scope of benefits
- Impose cost-sharing requirements
All of which would also impact the number of people seeking substance abuse and mental health treatment.
Recently GOP representatives and the Trump administration began the work of fundamentally altering state Medicaid programs. Some of these new requirements include governors pushing for:
So again, there is the very real possibility of more hurdles being put in-between those who need help and the already limited resources available to them.
Stigma Influencing Policy
The bigger part of this issue is that these shifts are happening in a way that shows how stigma is influencing policy. We are only further hurting our national addiction recovery by letting this idea that addiction is a moral failing or class issue limit what we are willing to provide to those who need help.
The reason behavioral and mental health services are so crucial is because the cause of addiction is not just the drugs themselves. The vast majority of recovery advocates endorse the concept that addiction develops from multiple factors, such as:
- Lack of access to resources
- Poor social networks
So in fact, by limiting coverage to mental health services, the problem could be magnified.
Mental health services like behavioral therapy being lost with a decrease in coverage means that more children and young adults could go without the support systems. What this does is puts more people in the exact circumstances where we see substance abuse and addiction grow.
So in essence, not only could these constant threats to addiction and mental health coverage be taking away treatment for those already addicted, but it also takes away from prevention programs in communities that fight to keep addiction rates down.
National Addiction Recovery Effects Everyone
If we have any hope of having sustainable national addiction recovery then it is vital that our country continues to push for mental health parity in every discussion about healthcare. If we ever hope to overcome the demoralization of communities we have to fight for mental health and addiction services.
This isn’t about treating the individual’s symptoms with just medications either. Access to other crucial elements like housing, medical care, and basic preventative measures all contribute to the overall mental health of any individual.
When people have better access to the specific levels of care they need, we empower them to contribute to the better communities we need for healthy nation-wide recovery.
People struggling with substance abuse and mental health disorders deserve comprehensive and compassionate treatment, and we should all fight to protect coverage that makes treatment more available. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
The new Trumpcare plan, formally known as the American Health Care Act or AHCA was announced this Monday March 6th. This Trumpcare bill is the Republican Party’s long awaited plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Since day one of the announcement we have seen quite a few varying opinions as to what this means for the people who were previously covered, and what it means for how healthcare altogether might change. Needless to say, not that much of the talk has been optimistic. As details emerge about Trumpcare some have become increasingly worried about the impact it will have on access to treatment for substance use disorder, especially for low-income Americans.
So what some are officials and experts saying about Trumpcare, and what it might mean for Americans struggling with addiction?
Early Predictions on Trumpcare
According to some early reports, 6-10 million Americans will lose health insurance. Not only that, millions of people in desperate need of help could be cut off from access to addiction treatment as a result of the bill.
In fact, according to one analysis, approximately 2.8 million people living with substance use disorder will lose some or all of their health insurance coverage if Obamacare is repealed. This conclusion comes from:
- Harvard health economist Richard Frank
- Sherry Glied, Dean of the Wagner School of Public Service at NYU
The publication The Hill reported in January that Frank and Glied predict that the federal government’s 21st Century Cures Act creates a recent investment of $1 billion to tackle opioid abuse. However, they state this provision would be- “squandered if the new Congress rolls back recent gains in the quality and level of substance use and mental health insurance coverage generated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010.”
Surely this is all “fake news” and “alternative facts” right?
Not so much. According to reports from the Washington Post Thursday, House Republicans admitted, after questioning by Massachusetts Democratic Representative Joe Kennedy III, that their the Trumpcare plan to repeal-and-replace would- “remove a requirement to offer substance abuse and mental-health coverage that’s now used by at least 1.3 million Americans.”
How does this happen? By attacking the expansion of Medicaid and the ‘essential benefits’ states are required to provide for.
Trumpcare Impact on Medicaid
Trumpcare’s plan to roll back Medicaid and health insurance tax credits are pretty distressing aspect of this reform. For all the Americans who rely on government assistance for addiction treatment this is a pretty huge deal.
Addiction treatment in the past is notably impacted by Medicaid. According to Truven Health Analytics, Medicaid was the second largest payer for addiction treatment, after state and local programs, in 2014.
Starting in 2020, Trumpcare is set to:
- Freeze Medicaid enrollment
- No longer require Medicaid to cover essential health benefits like addiction treatment
What is the point? To make it so the federal government pays less for Medicaid over time by shrinking coverage.
So if this is all the case, it is a terrifying reality. In a time when more Americans than ever desperately need addiction treatment, in the midst of an opioid epidemic that is tearing families and communities apart, the government’s Trumpcare plan stands to save money by stripping addiction resources from those relying on Medicaid?
Representative Kelly and Peter Welch, Democratic Representative from Vermont, attempted to amend the bill to restore the federal mandate for those ‘essential benefits’ but were voted down. Kenny is popularly quoted in the news recently for his statement,
“There is no mercy in a country that turns their back on those most in need of protection: the elderly, the poor, the sick, and the suffering. There is no mercy in a cold shoulder to the mentally ill… This is not an act of mercy — it is an act of malice.”
While Trump’s comments say he wants to give states “flexibility” with Medicaid to make sure no one is left out, many believe this is just adding the idea of paying more for less.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer vows to lead efforts to defeat Trumpcare, stating he believes it will “Make America Sick Again” and believes that it will create more drug addicts. In a report from The Hill Schumer attacks the bill saying,
“To make matters worse, this sham of a replacement would rip treatment away from hundreds of thousands of Americans dealing with opioid addiction, breaking the President’s word that he would expand treatment, not cut it.”
This is continuously troubling. When it comes to the fight against addiction, President Trump’s administration seems to be more focused on borders and “law and order” than providing resources. Trump did promise to work on creating more coverage options, but all the action taking place almost points the opposite direction.
Trumpcare Impact on Treatment Providers
This chain reaction wouldn’t just hurt those who need insurance by denying them coverage. Experts say Trumpcare also has the capacity to do damage to the treatment providers themselves.
Keith Humphreys, a drug policy expert at Stanford University, points out this issue directly. Humphreys notes that treatment providers, which tend to be small businesses in many parts of the country, may find it difficult to stay in business if clients lose coverage for addiction treatment. If less people are able to get coverage, less people will be able to get treatment. At the same time even bigger treatment providers could have trouble because it still has the capacity to reduce reimbursement rates for treatment services.
Thus, Trumpcare could affect both the supply and quality of treatment. In one interview Humphreys states,
“Most providers are small, mono-business entities that can’t absorb costs elsewhere in their care systems,”
“While hospitals will not go broke if poor people get less oncology care coverage, many [substance use disorder] treatment agencies will.”
But it isn’t just Democrats or University Professors or addiction experts speaking out. The AARP, the American Hospital Association, and the American Medical Association voice opinions against the overhaul of the ACA and the potential harm Trumpcare could do.
Even Republicans are speaking out against the danger that Trumpcare poses to addiction. Ohio Governor John Kasich is vocal with his own opposition to the bill saying,
“[Trumpcare] unnecessarily puts at risk our ability to treat the drug-addicted mentally ill and working poor who now have access to a stable source of care.”
Not to say that healthcare was ever perfect. It is noted by many doctors in the addiction field, as well as politicians and other experts, that there is already a treatment deficit. Approximately 10% of America’s population has what could be considered a substance use disorder, and only 13% of those people ever get treatment.
However, the miles of red tape Trumpcare might wrap around them could cut that number drastically. So even if these are unintended consequences, they are very real consequences just the same.
Obamacare was far, far from perfect. This is absolutely true. But is Trumpcare the best answer we can come up with?
As it now stands, Trumpcare may take so much away from those struggling with addiction and mental health that some experts are calling it dangerous. Having safe, effective and comprehensive treatment resources for these issues is extremely important to the preservation of life and the future of America. This is a matter of life and death. It is not the time for an ‘anything but Obamacare’ mentality… if the government expects a better plan, they need to make it happen. How about we put a hold on spending billions on border walls and expanding the nuclear program, and instead focus on healing Americans who need it most.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, think about who you want to be working with to find a real solution. Please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
The issue facing thousands of addicts all over the country is that they are uninsured, or lack the necessary coverage to get the help they need. There are programs set up to help with financial assistance with many establishments, but still many addicts go without adequate drug addiction treatment options.
Well for drug offenders in Indiana there may be new signs of hope; the state has launched its first statewide program that will pay for the mental health and drug addiction treatment of uninsured drug offenders that are sent to community corrections centers. This is all part of a progressive push gaining in momentum over the months to provide more options and resources to uninsured addicts in the area.
Statistics from the Indiana Department of Correction have made it quite clear that 80% of offenders in prison need drug addiction treatment, and with the way the opiate epidemic has hit the nation that statistic may be modest. Separate reports have found that 16% of inmates across the country have been diagnosed with a serious mental illness, so no matter how you look at it, we get the picture; there is a need for effective treatment.
The statement is as true as it gets, ask anyone in active recovery who has face down their own demons; recovery works.
So it only makes sense the new program in Indiana would don the designation Recovery Works. This new initiative aims to keep low-level, non-violent drug offenders out of prison, which has become a popular subject of discussion in recent months. President Obama, along with several other officials and politicians, have expressed a serious concern with overpopulated prison systems industrialized off of the steady stream of non-violent drug offenders who are quite often addicts themselves.
Beginning on November 1 the power was put in the hands of many elements in the justice system, specifically:
- Community corrections managers
- Probation and parole officers
These officials now have the option of referring eligible felons to designated treatment centers instead of jail or prison, turning the tides on the failed War on Drugs toward the new common goal of treating addicts as those in need and not those to blame.
Money Where Your Mouth Is
One big thing we notice here is that the state of Indiana is making moves to put its money where its mouth is and the way the drug addiction treatment conversation is going talking isn’t as cheap, but it is well worth it.
The money for Recovery Works will be pulled from $10 million in state funding for the first year and $20 million for the second year, but the state will need to continue providing funding in order to meet a growing need for drug addiction treatment.
Individuals involved in the program will receive $2,500 in vouchers for various means of assistance including:
- Mental health and addiction assessments
- Transportation to get to and from treatments
There are a few guidelines other than breaking the law with low-level drug offenses. All participants must meet the following requirements:
- At least 18 years old
- Have income under 200% of the federal poverty level
- No other form of health insurance
State Representative Linda Lawson co-authored the bill for the Recovery Works program, and she stated:
“We hope this will always be part of our budget, that this would be a priority.”
Kevin Moore, director of the Division of Mental Health and Addiction at the Family Social Services Administration, advocates for the Recovery Works programs, saying they are designed to bridge the gap for offenders in the program who will temporarily receive drug addiction treatment until they can obtain Medicaid coverage or find another form of health insurance. All 25 community health centers throughout the state are expected to eventually link to the program.
Franklin County Sheriff Ken Murphy made a statement about how important this program would be to the community and how the people of Indiana should be made aware of how essential this is for all residents:
“It’s something the public has to wake up and understand. This problem affects everybody.”
While inspiring programs like these are coming to life, there is already a strong recovery community and effective resources available to those in need of treatment. Palm Partners is a drug addiction treatment center emphasizing holistic healing and total transformation, and there are a number of options available to help those who need treatment get it.
There is always hope and sometimes that hope is just a phone call away. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. We want to help. You are not alone.
The quick answer is Yes! United Healthcare covers drug detox for substance abuse and drug and alcohol dependence.
You may not be aware that many health insurance companies offer coverage for the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction. The good news is that they do. United Healthcare is one of the best health insurance companies that offers comprehensive coverage for substance abuse and addiction. The reason for this is that these are recognized as chronic medical conditions for which treatment is required and has also been shown to be effective.
A drug detox is an important step in the recovery process because an addict or alcoholic simply cannot kick the habit successfully without United Healthcare drug detox. That’s because alcohol withdrawal and withdrawal from drugs like benzodiazepines (benzos) is dangerous and sometimes fatal. In other instances, such as with heroin and other opiates like prescription painkillers, as well as cocaine and crack, the withdrawal symptoms are so uncomfortable and even outright unbearable. This situation often leads the addict to go out and use more simply to avoid these symptoms.
Studies show that people have a better chance at recovery if they first attend a drug and alcohol detox, such as the ones covered by United Health Care. Their lives improve dramatically and it is for this reason that United Healthcare sees the importance of covering treatment for substance abuse, drug dependence, and addiction by providing this often necessary step in the treatment process.
About UHC: Does United Healthcare Cover Drug Detox?
A United Healthcare drug detox program is one that covers medical drug detox accommodations. If you are wondering whether or not your United Healthcare plan will cover drug detox your best bet is to call them up.
United Healthcare has been around since 1977 and has become one of the largest health care providers in the United States. United Healthcare offers diverse healthcare products including group policies, self-insured programs and Medicare subsidizing.
Does United Healthcare Cover Drug Detox and What are the Benefits?
United Healthcare covers detox centers that treat people who are struggling with drug and alcohol dependence. A United Healthcare covered alcohol and drug detox starts with a social history, in which a counselor will gather information from you about your drug use history. You will also be given a drug screen to see which substances are in your system and how much of each are present. All of this information is protected by confidentiality and privacy laws as outlined in HIPAA.
The next step in the process is the actual medical detox, “detox,” where you will be administered certain medications to ease your withdrawal symptoms and your medical condition will be closely monitored by medical staff. The United Healthcare drug detox offers safe haven in order to help you begin your recovery process.
Why United Healthcare Covers Drug Detox
The United Healthcare Insurance Company recognizes that the goal of treatment at a United Healthcare drug detox center is the same as for other any other kind of facilities, which is to help you overcome a chronic medical condition and then lead a life that is free of problems relating to that condition, which in this case is substance abuse and dependence. Specifically, United Healthcare recognizes that drug detox helps you to develop the skills necessary to engage in life-long recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.
Palm Partners does accept health insurance, however, we are not affiliated with United Healthcare Insurance Company. Please give us a call toll-free at 1-800-951-6135 to speak directly with an Admissions Expert for more information. We also have Addictions Specialists available at that number to answer any questions you may have about substance abuse, drug dependence, addiction, and detox programs. Help is available.