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Officials push to change federal rule limiting number of beds in addiction facilities

Like many states throughout the country, Ohio has been battling an opioid epidemic for several years and many victims of this epidemic are seeking treatment. With so many Ohioans seeking treatment, it is difficult for treatment facilities to make room for everyone who needs help. This is partly due to a 50-year-old federal rule that states community-based mental-health and addiction treatment centers can’t receive Medicaid funding if their facility exceeds 16 beds. While it may not seem like a big deal to be put on a waitlist until a spot opens, this wait can be the difference between life and death for many of these addicts.

Generally speaking, when an addict is finally ready to seek help, they are at a very low point and are likely at the peak of their drug use. Thus, it is absolutely critical that addicts have access to addiction treatment centers as soon as possible. This bed limit rule was adopted in 1965 because supporters were trying to discourage the emergence of large institutions and to keep states from passing onthe significant costs of state-run psychiatric hospitals on to the federal government.

In recent years, Ohio has taken some steps to address this problem. For instance, the state recently pursued the bed-limit waiver for psychiatric treatment, which allows for psychiatric treatment centers with more than 16 beds to accept adults in Medicaid managed-care plans to stay as long as 15 days in a month. However, this does not go far enough for those suffering from addiction as the length of stay for addiction treatment is typically longer when compared to the average stay at a psychiatric treatment center.

Officials in Ohio are now pushing Ohio senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman to continue with bipartisan legislation introduced in May that would allow Medicaid coverage for up to 40 beds at accredited residential addiction-treatment facilities for up to 60 consecutive days. The passage of this type of legislation is critical in states like Ohio, which is commonly referred to as the epicenter of the opioid epidemic.

The attorneys at Leeseberg Tuttle are devastated by what the opioid epidemic has done to our state and are doing everything we can to help. If you or a loved one has been affected by the opioid epidemic or negligent mental health treatment please contact our office to see if we can be of assistance.