WILKES BARRE, Pa., April 29, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following was written by Robert Piccone, M.S., President, Clearbrook Treatment Centers:
Do you ever wonder why there are not enough substance abuse treatment beds when almost every day one reads about new treatment centers opening? Ever wonder why no one talks about it? Ever wonder why despite all their rhetoric, politicians never discuss this issue? Is it because they don't know the answer or is it because they don't even know about this issue? Today they all seem to read from the same script and this issue is not on the script. Why?
The simple reason is because the answer is incendiary. This is the third rail that none of them have the moral courage to have a conversation about. Yes, I know putting the words politicians and moral courage in the same line is an oxymoron.
Remember the mental health parity and addiction equity act of 2008 that was supposed to make health care evenly distributed on the medical and mental health/substance abuse sides? Equalizing the financial requirements and limitations were easy. Insuring that coverages were similar across the spectrum was quite another issue. The politicians had a field day crowing about what a wonderful achievement this was and how it would equalize treatment. Do you ever hear a politician talk about that act these days? No. Do you know why? Because it was a failure.
Wonder why we mention parity? Because there is no parity in government funded reimbursement rates for substance abuse treatment vs. commercial insurance reimbursement rates for substance abuse treatment. Federal and state reimbursement rates for substance abuse treatment are low. So low that a treatment center will lose money taking a patient that has this funding. Yet if you have a blue cross policy this is not true. Very few of the new treatment centers opening are accepting government reimbursement. Why would a businessman spend millions of dollars to open a facility which would be guaranteed to lose money by taking government funded reimbursement?
So where is the parity for all of those patients who don't have blue cross or similar type policies? There isn't! Today you are either a have or a have not. Increased competition from all of the new facilities coming online has created an environment where facilities are forced to focus on admitting as many of the good reimbursement type policies as they can. Failure to do so causes the risk of declining revenues matched with increasing expenses.
While the government funded substance abuse population continues to grow, the number of available beds for this type of funding decreases. It decreases due to the frenzy of increased competition.
Why have the government funded rates not increased? If you ask a politician or bureaucrat for the answer to this question you are not likely to get a knowledgeable response. The tired canard that it is not financially possible begs the question as to why the rates haven't kept pace over the years. If the basic fact that low reimbursement rates are preventing patients from receiving the treatment they need and deserve, this and this alone should call into question the appropriateness of the rates.
The federal government is talking about committing billions of dollars to combat the heroin epidemic. Doesn't it make sense to commit some of this funding to create rates that are fair to the treatment centers? What's fair? Fair is an open and even chance to get into a treatment facility and not be denied because your reimbursement rate is too low. Fair is not to lose money by treating a patient for substance abuse. The lack of beds currently experienced in our industry could be changed overnight with fair reimbursement rates.
Do the politicians understand this? Where does that leave us? We have a clueless ruling elite and an ever growing population ravaged and dying from the heroin crisis.
Clearbrook is a 501(c) 3, not-for profit treatment center that has been treating the disease of alcoholism and chemical dependency since 1972. We offer state of the art facilities including a fully staffed, licensed, medical detox on our grounds. We also offer inpatient residential treatment for adults over the age of 18. We are located in Northeast Pennsylvania and are easily accessible to anyone in the country who needs help with overcoming the disease of addiction.