DHSS gets grant to fight drug abuse

NEW CASTLE — The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently awarded the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services a $3.58 million planning grant to increase the treatment capacity of Medicaid providers to deliver substance use disorder treatment and recovery services to Delawareans in need.

As of Sept. 24 the Division of Forensic Science has reported 209 suspected overdose deaths in Delaware this year. There is always a lag in terms of both toxicology analyses and death determinations. In 2018, there were 400 overdose deaths across the state, an increase of 16 percent from the 2017 total of 345 deaths.

Delaware was one of 15 states to receive the 18-month planning grants to increase addiction-related services through:
• An ongoing assessment of the SUD treatment needs of the state.
• Recruitment, training and technical assistance for Medicaid providers who offer SUD treatment or recovering services.
• Improved reimbursement for and expansion of the number or treatment capacity of Medicaid providers.

“We are grateful to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for providing this technical assistance to Delaware during the ongoing opioid crisis,” Gov. John Carney said. “We also appreciate the members of our congressional delegation supporting this critical work to increase our treatment capacity of Medicaid providers statewide.”

The Medicaid planning grant helps to meet priorities for Delaware’s treatment system outlined in 2018 recommendations from researchers and clinicians at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In April 2017, DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker had asked Johns Hopkins to conduct a review of Delaware’s addiction treatment system. In July 2018, the Johns Hopkins team issued a 33-page report that proposed four main strategies:
• Increase the capacity of the treatment system.
• Engage high-risk populations in treatment.
• Create incentives for quality care.
• Use data to guide reform and monitor progress.

“Across our country, Medicaid is the largest payer of addiction treatment services,” Secretary Walker said. “In Delaware, this planning grant will help us increase the capacity for Medicaid-provided treatment and recovery services for vulnerable people who are suffering from this chronic and complex brain disease.”

Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long said the state should take every tool it can in an effort to stop the opioid epidemic.
“With one in every four Delawareans being a Medicaid recipient, the need for treatment and recovery support is critical to stem this epidemic,” she said. “The Behavioral Health Consortium is pleased we have our congressional delegation partnering with us to get more boots on the ground to save lives and expand care.”

Elizabeth Brown, Medical Director for the Division of Medicaid and Medical Assistance, said the funding will be used for data analysis, a rate review and reimbursement design, expanding the provider pool and stakeholder engagement.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use disorder, call DHSS’ 24/7 Crisis Services Helpline to be connected to trained crisis professionals who can discuss treatment options. In New Castle County, call 1-800-652-2929.

In Kent and Sussex counties, call 1-800-345-6785. Individuals and families also can visit DHSS’ website, www.HelpIsHereDE.com, to find addiction treatment and recovery services in Delaware and nearby states.

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