WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) today secured a key victory in the final House-Senate opioid package with the inclusion of their bipartisan proposal to lift the Institutions for Mental Disease (IMD) exclusion, which will expand Americans’ access to treatment for opioid addiction. The IMD exclusion is an arcane, decades-old policy that prohibits states from using federal Medicaid dollars to pay for treatment at residential mental health or substance abuse facilities with more than 16 beds. This policy limits access to treatment, hampers behavioral health parity, and prevents many Americans from getting the help they need. The senators’ bipartisan bill would lift this outdated cap for five years, covering all substance-use disorders, so more Americans can access treatment services at these inpatient facilities. The full text of the legislation is here.
“There isn’t a community in Ohio that hasn’t been touched by the addiction crisis,” said Senator Brown. “We are doing all we can to fight it, but we have to make it just as easy for Ohioans to seek treatment as it is to get opioids. Lifting this outdated cap on the number of people facilities can treat will allow more Ohioans to access the potentially life-saving help they need.”
“This is great news and an important victory in our efforts to expand access to treatment for those who truly need it,” said Senator Portman. “We know that access to treatment is one of the biggest obstacles we face in helping more Americans who are suffering from addiction. This legislation will significantly expand access to treatment, and I’d like to thank Chairman Hatch and Senator Alexander for working with us on this effort and including it in the final package."
NOTE: Building on their earlier legislative efforts to lift the IMD Exclusion through the Medicaid CARE Act (S.1169), the final House-Senate opioid package includes language based on the Improving CARE Act introduced recently that would lift the IMD cap and allow states to use Medicaid dollars to pay for coverage at any sized accredited residential addiction treatment facilities. The current IMD policy created in 1965 limits Medicaid funding for residential treatment to facilities with just 16 beds or less. The final House-Senate opioid package would lift this outdated and unnecessary barrier for five years so more Americans can access services at these inpatient facilities. More specifically, the bill would: