ObamaCare was supposed to offer affordable care for those who needed it: the poor, the uninsured and those left behind by the previous insurance system. We have seen several cases where that is not the reality, where in fact, government involvement has made options scarce, and far more expensive if they can get it at all.
For those struggling with alcohol and substance abuse, the new law is hurting, not helping their ability to get needed care. Illinois programs have been particularly hard hit.
From the New York Times:
The law allowed states to expand Medicaid to many more low-income people, meaning that drug addicts and alcoholics who were previously ineligible could now receive coverage for substance abuse treatment, which the law has deemed an “essential health benefit.” But there is a hitch: Under an obscure federal rule enacted almost 50 years ago, Medicaid covers residential addiction treatment in community-based programs only if they have 16 or fewer beds. The South Suburban Council’s main treatment program has 48. So the very people who might have flowed through its doors in search of care will not be coming. And the same problem faces many other centers, which typically are larger than 16 beds, experts say.
Millions of low-income addicts where supposed to have expanded access to “essential health benefits” like substance abuse treatment, and the Democrats had you believe that if your state expanded Medicaid under ObamaCare that your citizens would have better care. Not the case.
“For some addicts, there is an undeniable and essential need for residential treatment,” said Allen Sandusky, the South Suburban Council’s chief executive. “The A.C.A. is going to mess that up badly unless this problem is acknowledged and addressed.” The rule was intended to prevent Medicaid funds from covering treatment in state psychiatric hospitals, which were far more common when it was written in 1965. The federal government considered such treatment a state responsibility, and it included residential programs for substance abuse under the exclusion. “The federal government basically said to the states, ‘We’re not going to pay for your institutional care,’ ” said Becky Vaughn, executive director of the State Associations of Addiction Services, which represents treatment providers.
Many treatment centers are now scrambling to comply with the regulations by reducing their available beds, shifting to outpatient care and when new treatment centers open they will contain less fewer rooms, which means they will likely treat fewer patients. These treatment facilities are not for addicts who are making significant progress in their struggles, but those in the gravest of need, those who need the treatment most.
“The majority of our clients are in crisis,” Mr. Sandusky said. “They are the clients who present the most challenging issues for our communities and systems.” Pete Kurpios, 41, started using heroin two years ago and was referred to the South Suburban Council by a hospital after he intentionally overdosed and spent days in a coma. “I’ve tried outpatient and that didn’t work out,” said Mr. Kurpios, who added that he had signed up for Medicaid but was still waiting for confirmation of enrollment. “I had too much time on my hands.” Jim McCarthy, 53, who was also in treatment at the South Suburban Council last month, said his addiction to alcohol and heroin recently cost him his painting business. “Here you’ve got people watching over you when you might not be capable of watching over yourself,” he said.
These are substance abuse addicts who need the most intense of treatments; a safe haven free from alcohol, drugs ,or other temptations, with a trained staff whose mission is to help these people get back on their feet. These are facilities that help addicts become productive members of society again, people who can contribute to their community, and build a new life for themselves. The help these treatment centers provide is critical and the bureaucratic mess caused by ObamaCare and its Medicaid expansion could leave many of these addicts without the treatment they need to take back control over their own lives. Is that the kind of system we want? That’s not compassion. Follow Kristina and the FGA on Twitter