(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Monday, Attorney General Mike DeWine and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, along with a bipartisan coalition of 39 Attorneys General and the National Association of Attorneys General, called on Congress to pass legislation that changes federal law to make treatment for drug addiction more affordable and accessible for Americans who most need it.
The coalition of Attorneys General sent a letter supporting HR 2938, the “Road to Recovery” Act, to the U.S. House of Representatives, describing the national epidemic of heroin and opioid abuse and overdose deaths, and stating: “… [W]e cannot arrest our way out of this problem because it is not just a public safety challenge – it is a public health challenge as well.”
“In Ohio last year more than 4,000 people died as the result of a drug overdose,” said Attorney General Mike DeWine. “The ‘Road to Recovery’ Act will help those struggling with addiction gain access to treatment, and eliminate a decades-old Medicaid rule that limits residential treatment options. I am pleased to help spearhead this effort with my colleague Attorney General Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania and be supported by attorneys general from across the nation.”
The “Road to Recovery” Act will help 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 was, 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 change in the law is supported by health care providers, insurers, treatment centers, governors of both political parties and the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.