WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced bipartisan legislation to help more Ohioans get needed treatment for opioid addiction. Current law limits use of Medicaid funding for residential mental health or substance abuse treatment to facilities with just 16 beds or less, which prevents many Ohioans from getting the help they need. The Senators’ bill would lift this outdated cap so more Ohioans can access services at these inpatient facilities.

“Red tape shouldn’t keep Ohioans from needed treatment and this simple fix will provide real relief to those struggling with addiction,” said Brown.  “Ohioans on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic tell me lack of beds at these facilities is the number-one barrier to getting folks on the path to recovery.  Medicaid expansion has already helped hundreds of thousands in Ohio receive treatment, and we need to build off that success to make sure all treatment options are on the table for all Ohioans, regardless of their insurance.”

We have a heroin and prescription drug crisis in our state and this bipartisan bill would remove an unnecessary barrier that is limiting access to residential treatment in Ohio,” said Portman.  “This measure will build on the work of CARA and CURES to expand options for Ohioans seeking substance abuse treatment by allowing residential facilities to treat more than 16 people under Medicaid.  This is a necessary change and I’m urging the full Senate to act on this issue as quickly as possible.”

The Medicaid CARE Act would modify current law to allow Medicaid coverage for up to 40 beds at accredited residential addiction treatment facilities for up to 60 consecutive days. Medicaid covers 50 percent of all addiction treatment in Ohio, so lifting this cap is critical to ensuring that Ohioans on Medicaid get care. 

The legislation also establishes a new $50 million youth inpatient addiction treatment grant program to fund facilities that provide substance use disorder treatment services to underserved, at-risk Medicaid beneficiaries who are younger than age 21, with an emphasis on rural communities.  In addition, the bill would increase flexibility for pregnant and postpartum women who are seeking treatment, and would allow them to access the services they need to ensure positive birth outcomes.  This legislation builds off a letter that Brown and Portman sent in August 2016 to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) pushing for greater flexibility to expand access to treatment.