Local governments will pay more for patients' detox

Staff writerApril 30, 2014 

The state has cleared the way for higher Medicaid payments that could keep four drug and alcohol detox centers in business.

"I just took cupcakes down to our detox staff," said Linda Grant, CEO of Evergreen Manor in Everett, celebrating that she won't have to go through with plans to close the unit to new patients starting Wednesday.

The federal government will pick up most of the tab, but not all, and the Department of Social and Health Services had been trying to find the money. Now DSHS says the funds will come from the local governments that are home to the facilities.

“We don’t have additional state funds laying around here at headquarters," said Jane Beyer, an assistant secretary at DSHS. "But the counties felt strong enough about their need to do the rate increase."

Outdated state assumptions had kept Medicaid rates low for drug treatment. And with the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act starting Jan. 1, many more people were suddenly moved to the Medicaid rolls. That strained small detox centers at MDC in Tacoma, Providence St. Peter hospital in Lacey, Lifeline Connections in Vancouver and Evergreen Manor.

It has left other providers of drug treatment struggling too. But they will have to keep waiting for a solution. Only the small detox centers are included in this decision, retroactive to April 1.

The state's price tag for raising the payment rate to $252 per patient per day from $160 is likely to be roughly $250,000 over the next 15 months. It is not yet clear what local government will pay for MDC's rate increase.

"We are delighted," said Troy Christensen of MDC. "It's going to keep us open."

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