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Federal waiver program opens up more treatment beds

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By Patrick Jackson

DOVER – People seeking treatment for substance abuse will soon have more options under a state program that launched this month.

Federal officials approved a waiver allowing the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) to use a mix of Medicaid and state funding to provide bed space at four treatment facilities across the state.

Under the waiver, the following facilities are authorized to provide services to Medicaid patients between 21 and 64 years old:

  • MeadowWood Behavioral Health, near New Castle
  • Rockford Center, near Newark
  • Dover Behavioral Health
  • SUN Behavioral Health in Georgetown

Without the waiver, the state would have been barred from providing the services to patients under Medicaid, which provides health benefits to low-income individuals. Delaware is the 25th state to receive a waiver to provide a treatment wavier for substance abuse treatment. The waiver runs through the end of 2023.

“It’s an important step forward,” said DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker. “We all know substance abuse is a major public health issue for our state and we’re glad our federal partners saw the need for this program. Obviously, if we can use Medicaid to help get people into treatment, it can help us address the issue.”

According to state records, some 400 Delawareans died from overdoses or contaminated drugs during 2018, despite efforts to make the anti-overdose drug Narcan available and the introduction of criminal immunity laws protecting people who report overdoses.

The issue also has been a big one for the state’s behavioral health consortium whose leader, Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long, has welcomed the new program.

“We’re addressing a whole spectrum of behavioral health issues,” Hall-Long said. “Right now, of course, the big target is substance abuse – especially opioids. So, anything we can do to expand our treatment options is going to be useful because the opioid epidemic, in some way, touches every family and business in the state.”

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