Brown Secures Provision to Help More Americans Get Treatment for Addiction in Package Set to Become Law

Final Addiction Package Includes Bipartisan Solution Introduced by Senators Brown and Portman to Make More Treatment Beds Available

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) hosted a news conference call to highlight a provision he and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) worked together to secure in the final opioid package that will make more treatment beds available to Ohioans struggling with addiction. The provision passed the Senate last week and is expected to be signed into law soon.  

“I’ve traveled around Ohio doing roundtables with local health departments and medical professionals and others working to fight addiction, and this rule was a top concern that I heard about over and over. That’s why Senator Portman and I have worked for years to lift this outdated cap,” said Brown.

Brown was joined on the call by Erie County Health Department Director Pete Schade. The Erie County Health Department runs addiction treatment centers that will benefit from the Senators’ provision, and Mr. Schade has long advocated for the change.     

“We need to open more beds and get more people into recovery. This provision will allow us to increase detox, in-patient, and sober living recovery numbers,” said Schade.

The IMD exclusion is a 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The Senators’ bipartisan provision lifts an outdated cap on the number of beds available to Ohioans seeking treatment for five years, covering all substance-use disorders, so more Americans can access treatment services at these inpatient facilities. While the original Senate addiction package didn’t include language to allow treatment centers to increase the number of beds available to patients, Sens. Brown and Portman worked together to ensure the language was included in the final package that is set to become law. In 2017, the Senators introduced the Medicaid Care Act to lift the outdated cap. Brown and Portman introduced an updated version of the bill in September, the Improving Coverage for Addiction Recovery Expansion (Improving CARE) Act.  

The final provision is based on the Senators’ Improving CARE Act. While the provision included in the final package does not go as far as the Senators’ bill, both Brown and Portman believe this is an important first step toward expanding access to treatment for Ohioans and providing clarity to states who may currently take piecemeal approaches to solving this problem.

More specifically, the provision will:

  • Expand access to inpatient care for individuals with a diagnosis of substance use disorder, regardless of the size of the facility;
  • Require participating facilities to have plans for transitioning individuals to outpatient treatment, or other forms of care, after their inpatient stays.
  • As a condition for expanding access to care, require that state Medicaid programs cover six of the nine American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) continuum levels of care, including all outpatient levels of care, in order to ensure coverage continuity after leaving inpatient care; and
  • Establish a maintenance of effort for states to maintain their current level of funding as a condition for receiving new IMD funding, in order to target federal dollars towards new services and care.