Access to substance abuse treatment jumps 740 percent under Medi - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Access to substance abuse treatment jumps 740 percent under Medicaid

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Ben Chandler Ben Chandler

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A recent study connects the expansion of Medicaid with a huge increase in the number of newly eligible patients that can afford treatment for substance abuse.

The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, based in Louisville, works to make Kentuckians healthier through policy changes. The study released on Dec. 28 states with the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, treatments covered for substance use jumped 740 percent since 2014.

“Before, if they wanted to try and get help or treatment for their problem, so many people would not have been able to because they simply couldn’t afford it.," said Ben Chandler, the foundation’s CEO.

Providing more access to insurance options for treatment is required under the Affordable Care Act. Chandler said this particularly helps young adults.

“The group that we’re affecting – that the ACA is affecting and our study speaks to – are groups of younger people that normally wouldn’t have insurance and possibly couldn’t afford insurance,” Chandler said. “Those people are also the largest group of people that find themselves, typically, hooked on opioids.”

But the access could be in jeopardy. With the recent election, President-elect Donald Trump has made statements about getting rid of or modifying the ACA.

“Nobody knows what’s going to happen with the Affordable Care Act,” Chandler said. “I think it’s all up in the air. None of us knows at this point exactly what he means. Whether he’s going to get rid of pieces of it? If so, what pieces?”

In the meantime, Gov. Matt Bevin plans to reform Kentucky’s Medicaid program with a 1115 waiver. If approved, it would continue the coverage under Medicaid for substance use.

To read more about the foundation’s study and its findings, click here.

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