Today's Stateline article by Christine Vestal highlights three states--California, Maryland and New York--that are moving to use Medicaid reimbursement policies to facilitate more counseling for substance use addicts who are in medication-assisted treatment. 

CSG Midwest
Right now in Iowa, it’s no sure bet that a child in need of mental health services is going to get them. Instead, access can depend on where his or her family happens to live. “There is no statewide system or network of care in place, and over the long term, we need to develop it because there are clear gaps,” explains Anne Gruenwald, president and CEO of Four Oaks, a Cedar Rapids-based nonprofit agency that provides a range of services for children in need.
“When you have those gaps, needs go unmet, or we have to rely on our adult system of care — and that’s not always a good fit.” Iowa appears to be taking some important first steps, thanks to the recommendations of a work group formed by the Legislature in 2015 and actions taken by lawmakers during their 2016 session. 

A record number of ballot initiatives regarding marijuana have been proposed this year. According to Ballotpedia, nine states have initiatives concerning marijuana on the ballot this fall. Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada are considering initatives to legalize recreational marijuana, while Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota are voting on legalizing medical marijuana.

Today the Department of Health and Human Services announced that 44 states and the District of Columbia, as well as four tribes, will receive one or more grants to fight the growing opioid epidemic from a total of $53 million awarded.

By Sallie Clark

Counties are at the forefront of assisting individuals with behavioral health needs, annually investing $83 billion in community health systems, including behavioral health services. Through 750 behavioral health authorities and community providers, county governments plan and operate community-based services for people with mental illnesses and substance abuse conditions. County-based behavioral health services exist in 23 states that collectively represent 75 percent of the U.S. population. Counties also help to finance Medicaid, the largest source of funding for behavioral health services in the U.S., and serve as the local safety net, administering wrap-around human services support.

For students battling a substance use disorder at Oregon State University, the road to recovery may get a little easier this fall.

That’s the hope of university staff working to open a recovery dormitory when students return for the fall semester. According to OSU Alcohol, Drug and Recovery Specialist John Ruyak, it’s been a long-term goal of the university to offer specialized housing for students recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.

 A new study published in the journal Health Affairs shows a significant reduction in prescription painkiller use as well as other prescribed drugs in states where medical marijuana has been legalized. 

Midwestern states have adopted a variety of intervention strategies designed to combat the opioid epidemic and manage the risks associated with injection drug use. These harm reduction efforts include syringe exchange programs; medication-assisted therapy; overdose prevention; public education campaigns; and policies and laws designed to enhance collaboration among advocates, law enforcement and health care professionals.

In a key action to increase access to medication assisted treatment for persons addicted to opioid drugs, this week the Department of Health and Human Services released a final regulation to allow physicians to increase from 100 to 275 the number of patients for whom they can prescribe buprenorphine. Buprenorphine is one of three FDA-approved medications to treat addiction. It is addictive and can be abused. Sometimes it is combined with naloxone, sold under the brand name Suboxone, to decrease its euphoric  properties. Buprenorphine is covered by state Medicaid programs, although certain restrictions and time limits may exist in some states. 

On June 8, Ohio Governor Kasich signed into law the Medical Marijuana Control Program (House Bill 523), making it the 25th state to legalize medicinal marijuana.

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