The federal government announced Monday that opioid treatment centers in Utah will receive additional Medicaid reimbursement money. The money will be used to house more clients seeking drug treatment help.
President Trump's administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Seema Verma, was in Utah to announce the Medicaid waiver approval.
Verma met with Utah Governor Gary Herbert at the Salt Lake City recovery facility, Odyssey House. The waiver allows for this and other treatment centers in Utah to expand services immediately.
"That was a great example, because they are now building. They can go beyond 16 beds and actually have more slots so that they can provide more treatment," Verma said.
The waiver removes restrictions limiting the number of clients covered by Medicaid. Before today, treatment centers could only receive funding for up to 16 filled beds. The governor worked with Utah lawmakers to push for waiver approval after opioid use in the United States was declared a medical emergency. Utah ranks seventh in the national for prescription overdose deaths, according the data from the Utah Department of health.
"We actually gave them a waiver and we said you can go ahead and do this,” Verma said. “But the other thing that we did as part of the waiver is the state actually has to put an implementation plan together and they did that, and it was approved and we announced that today. So, that means as of today the state can move forward with providing immediate treatment for individuals.”
The state of Utah is also working with Verma to obtain a waiver that would require work as a condition of eligibility for some Medicaid beneficiaries.
“So we are changing things in the Medicaid program to empower states and be a real partner with them to deliver the type of change and reform that we need in the Medicaid program to make it actually work better.”
While working with the state of Indiana as the architect of the Healthy Indiana Plan, Verma emphasized “personal responsibility “ which included incentives for healthy behavior and required beneficiaries to pay premiums and contribute to health savings accounts.
Democrats have criticized the Indiana plan. They say the program creates a roadblock for low-income Americans.