Drug treatment providers across the state just got word that neither the Department of Social and Health Services nor the legislature has come up with the funding to pay for outpatient and detox treatment for the poor.
With the shift to the Affordable Care Act, thousands of patients getting treatment for addiction to heroin, meth, cocaine, alcohol and other drugs under a combination of federal and state payments have been switched to Medicaid. Medicaid rates are far lower than the actual cost of the services. Prior to January 1, DSHS was chipping in dollars to fill the funding gap for these services.
The providers found out in February the major financial impact that change is having on their agencies. The non-profit, Recovery Centers of King County, reports losing more than $40,000 of their scarce reserves in January and February to pay the difference for outpatient treatments.
Agencies that provide detox treatments are getting hard hit as well. At Evergreen Manor in Everett, they lost $63,000 in January and February to pay for outpatient and detox treatments. The CEO, Linda Grant, sent out an email today to alert the community that because of Wednesday’s news services will be cut soon.
“This is to give formal notice that we will begin the process of ending our contract to serve Medicaid (also called Apple Health) clients in detox in the very near future. I will keep you advised of the timelines but we cannot and will not continue a service that does not cover its cost. I am extremely disappointed and flabbergasted right now. All it would have taken is $250,000 to keep detoxes going. This is beyond belief,” said Grant.
Without treatment services, administrators of human services at the county level project an immediate increase to the state and taxpayers in costs such as hospital emergency room stays and costs associated with crime.
“So now every one of those clients will end up in hospital ER at a cost, to the state and taxpayer, of $2,000-$4,000. Over the course of this year, it will cost millions to the taxpayer. (It) makes absolutely no sense. We heard (from our lobbyists) that the Legislature is looking to DSHS to fix it in their current budget. As you start declining admissions, this will cost shift not only to the hospital but to 911, law enforcement, jail and Fire District Emergency Medical Services. The $2,000-$4,000 per emergency room visit is the tip of the iceberg compared to the cost shift to local government,” said Ken Stark, Director of Human Services in Snohomish County and the former director of the Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse at DSHS.
The providers tell KING their lobbyists working on a fix with the legislature said DSHS did not make a formal request for the money in their current budget and that they would have to ask the governor to intervene at this late date.
KING 5 has reached out to Gov. Inslee’s office and DSHS for a comment but has not heard back yet.