Recovery Act

Herring joins bipartisan coalition working to change federal law to make drug treatment more affordable and accessible

In Heroin, In the News, Opioids by admin

~ “Road to Recovery” Act Will Make Drug Treatment Options More Available to Virginia Residents ~

Richmond, Va. – Today, Attorney General Mark R. Herring joined a bipartisan coalition of 39 state Attorneys General and the National Association of Attorneys General in calling on Congress to pass legislation that changes federal law to make treatment for drug addiction more affordable and accessible for Americans who most need it.

The “Road to Recovery” Act, HR2938, will help increase access to treatment for opioid addiction by removing a more than 50-year-old provision in the Medicaid program that currently acts as a barrier to residential addiction treatment.

Attorney General Herring previously called for this federal provision to be removed when he outlined his new priorities and initiatives for combating the heroin and opioid crisis in the months and years ahead. The provision was removed for Virginians eligible for Medicaid through an ARTS waiver, but it is important for Virginians seeking treatment outside the Commonwealth for this provision to be removed and for people across the country who need expanded affordable treatment options.

“More than 1,100 Virginians lost their lives to a fatal drug overdose in 2016 alone, and we should be doing everything we can to combat this epidemic and stop this heartbreaking loss of life,” said Attorney General Herring. “Those suffering from addiction should have access to affordable treatment, and the Road to Recovery Act is a significant step toward creating more treatment options for people across the country, including Virginians seeking treatment outside the Commonwealth. I hope Congress will listen to this bipartisan coalition of attorneys general and pass this important piece of legislation into law.”

The bipartisan coalition of state Attorneys General sent a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives, describing the national epidemic of heroin and opioid abuse and overdose deaths, and stating: “… [W]e cannot arrest our way out of this problem, because it is not just a public safety challenge – it is a public health challenge as well… If we truly want to end this crisis, we need to focus on its root causes, including a lack of treatment for those suffering from addiction.”

The bill addresses the “Institutions for Mental Diseases” (IMD) exclusion which was created in the original 1965 Medicaid legislation to prevent the funding of large, residential mental health facilities. While the exclusion led to the closure of what were, in many cases, inhumane institutions, it now has the unintended effect of limiting Medicaid funding for residential treatment facilities, which can be one of the most effective ways to treat drug addiction.

The “Road to Recovery” Act will remove the exclusion for addiction treatment facilities only. This will help open new avenues for addiction treatment while maintaining appropriate restrictions on mental health facilities.

The change in the law is supported by health care providers, insurers, treatment centers, governors of both political parties and the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.

To view a copy of today’s letter, please click here.

Attorney General Herring has made combating the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic a top priority, attacking the problem with a multifaceted approach that includes enforcement, education, prevention, and legislation to encourage reporting of overdoses in progress, expand the availability of naloxone, and expand access to the Prescription Monitoring Program. He has supported federal efforts to improve the availability of treatment and recovery resources and made prescription drug disposal kits available across the Commonwealth. Attorney General Herring recently outlined his recommended next steps for combating the crisis, focusing on law enforcement initiatives, support from the medical community, and recovery, treatment, prevention and education.