Dear Friend and Colleagues,
2018 was a remarkable year in advancing a number of our policy objectives. After years of working with a number of federal authorities with jurisdiction in this area, Congress passed legislation (H.R. 6), which included a provision to develop a Medicare reimbursement rate for Medicare recipients, who participate in an opioid treatment program. We are now working with CMS Medicare representatives and other officials within the Department of Health and Human Services and SAMHSA to develop a bundled weekly reimbursement rate, which will include all federally approved medications to treat opioid use disorder in addition to the range of complementary support services for patients participating in the OTPs.
We have also encouraged states to implement Medicaid reimbursement for Medicaid recipients in OTPs and a number of states have been moving to do just this with South Carolina being the most recent state to implement a Medicaid reimbursement rate, effective January 2019.
The State Administrators and our colleagues are working to develop the reimbursement rate so that patients can effectively participate in treatment without making out-of-pocket payments. This is a significant achievement for the patients in OTPs in South Carolina.
We are now focusing work on criminal justice initiatives as we prepare for our October 19-23, 2019 Conference at the Coronado Resorts Hotel in Walt Disney World Florida. As you know, David Kneessy is serving as the Conference Chair and all of you should be receiving updates on Conference planning initiatives.
We are working with our partners in the criminal justice system in conjunction with the Legal Action Center. There will be preconference sessions focusing on developing initiatives in correctional facilities in addition to preconference training for Drug Court Judges. We are working with our partners in the National Association of Drug Court Professionals in addition to the National Commission on Correctional Health Care and the American Correctional Association. This will also involve working with federal and state officials, which have jurisdiction in this area.
We are also working in support of Congressional legislation, which intends to increase access to financial support for the use of Medication Assisted Treatment in correctional facilities through grants offered through the Department of Justice. While we are at the beginning of this initiative and it will take some time to achieve, it is promising.
Thank you again for supporting our work in the field. While we have achieved a great deal over the past several years, there is still so much more to do. This has certainly been the case since the founding of our organization in 1984 and if anything, the work has certainly intensified as our federal state officials have come to realize that we are truly in the midst of a major opioid use epidemic.
Please pay attention to our policy initiatives and announcements. We have just released a major policy paper and it lays out our Association’s perspectives in this policy area. I hope to see you at our Conference in Walt Disney World in October 2019.
Mark W. Parrino, M.P.A.
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