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Wake-up Call for Treatment Providers and State Addiction Directors
by BENJAMIN CHAMBERS
  • adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment_alarm-clockDo you work for an agency that treats teens or adults with alcohol and drug problems?   
  • Are you responsible for addiction programs in your state? Or do you advocate for adults and teens with addictions?

If so, you may need to mobilize, and fast.

Huge decisions are being made at the state level all over the country that could eventually cut off insurance reimbursements (including Medicaid) for addiction treatment providers. 

I'm getting my information from a Join Together editorial by David Wanser and David Rosenbloom, called "Where are the Treatment Providers and State Agencies in the Health Information Technology Planning Process?"

Here's my gloss:

  • Under health reform, providers will be expected to use electronic health records (EHRs).  
  • Within the next few months, every state will decide what patient information goes into its Medicaid databases and "health information exchanges" that will be set up to share patient information between doctors and clinicians more efficiently. 

That means:

  • As an incentive to adopt EHRs, reimbursements will increasingly be given to agencies who use them -- in particular, electronic records systems that are compatible with the state databases. 
  • That means that treatment providers whose electronic records systems aren't compliant will find it harder and harder to get reimbursed as time goes by. What will this mean for teens in addiction treatment? Fewer options.

Surprisingly, however:

  • According to Wanser and Rosenbloom, in many states, "the most senior treatment providers, consumer representatives and State substance abuse Directors" are not currently active in the decision-making.
  • Because those folks are not at the table as the rules and agreements are hashed out, confidentiality and privacy protections are not being taken into account. The impact on teens in treatment -- especially court-involved youth in treatment -- could be devastating.

Want more detail? Read the editorial.

Photo: alancleaver_2000.