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Emmer leads bipartisan call for CMS to expand substance abuse treatment access

The Ripon Advance

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Washington, October 19, 2016 | comments
U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) recently led a bipartisan letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) calling for an expansion of access to treatment for substance abuse disorders.
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U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) recently led a bipartisan letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) calling for an expansion of access to treatment for substance abuse disorders.

CMS rules and Medicaid policy currently prohibit federal funding from being used to care for patients in mental health or substance abuse facilities that have more than 16 beds, or those who stay for more than 15 days.

Emmer and U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL) called on CMS to do everything possible to expand treatment options under its current authority.

“Unfortunately, an opioid epidemic is plaguing our nation and my home state of Minnesota has not been immune,” Emmer said. “It is devastating to learn about so many Americans who will never reach their life’s potential as a result of their addictions and to hear from grieving parents who have lost a child to these terrible drugs. But what is perhaps even more heartbreaking is knowing that many of these drug-related deaths may have been prevented if more treatment options were available today. We owe it to each and every one of these individuals to ensure that CMS does everything in their power to make treatment more effective and accessible.”

Emmer and Foster raised “serious concerns” in the letter about the recent managed care rule that allows for only 15 days of furnished care at Institutions for Mental Diseases facilities over a 30-day period.

“To cap a patient’s stay at a treatment facility at 15 days is simply unrealistic,” the letter states. “These patients need time to recover, not only from physical dependency, but also from mental and emotional trauma. A 15-day limit is just not practical and does not take into account the numerous studies suggesting the cost-savings, readmissions reductions, overdose preventions and recovery efficacy from longer lengths of stay in residential settings as a patient progresses down the clinical continuum of care.”

Twenty-four members of the House, including U.S. Reps. Bruce Poliquin (R-ME) and Steve Stivers (R-OH), signed the bipartisan letter.

“Opioid and heroin addiction is a public health crisis, and this epidemic affects too many people nationwide and in Illinois,” Foster said. “We need to stop treating this epidemic like a moral failing and start treating it like the medical condition it is. We also need to make sure medical treatments remain affordable and accessible to everyone who suffers from addiction.”

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