Legislative Cuts Threaten Methadone Treatment in Maine

By Michael Dougherty

 

The Maine State legislature recently passed legislation placing a two year cap on Medicaid reimbursement for methadone and buprenorphine treatment in Maine. This is just the most recent reduction in coverage recovering addicts, and the clinics that treat them, have had to deal with. 

Historically, Medicaid was permitted to reimburse methadone providers $80.00 a week, allowing them to provide patients with comprehensive services to help deal with their addiction. A few years ago, the reimbursement was reduced to $72.00 a week, and earlier this year the rate was reduced to $60.00 a week.

“Currently, none of the clinics are providing comprehensive services and are barely able to keep their doors open,” Richard Froncillo, Director of Patient Advocacy for the Discovery House, said on Friday. “Patients can remain in treatment in Calais, however, if the clinic is unable to secure prior authorization the patient will need to pay for services.”

Additionally there is a prior authorization process (PA) that physicians treating patients with either methadone or buprenorphine can submit to request an extension should they feel the patient needs additional time to beat their addiction. This process is now in jeopardy as is the ability for Medicaid to reimburse clinics for methadone and/or buprenorphine treatment at all.

“Our organization subscribes to best practice which supports that a patient be allowed to remain in treatment for as long as they believe necessary (and as long as they are benefiting from the program). We do not have a typical time-period that  patients remain in treatment and we do not force patients to leave treatment after a certain time-period,” continued Mr. Froncillo on Friday. “However, there is current proposed legislation to prohibit Medicaid reimbursement (for) methadone and buprenorphine altogether in Maine. There is also proposed legislation do away with the PA process.”

The Discovery House has been helping addicts beat their addictions since 1989. For those individuals who are ready for treatment Discovery House is a vital, safe and non-judgmental place to be. Maine residents suffering from addiction, and ready to make a positive change, can contact the Discovery House of Calais by telephone (207-454-1300) or e-mail (dhwc@discoveryhouse.com).