Greensburg, PA – State Sen. Kim Ward (R-39) today announced that she is introducing two bills that would place common sense limits on taxpayer-funded methadone treatment services and increase program accountability.
The first bill would require that the Department of Public Welfare limit Medicaid payments to 30 months for clients receiving methadone treatment. The limit is based on a recent Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) Report which found that clients are in treatment an average of 27.3 months.
In addition, the legislation would require DPW to establish stringent regulations for the inspection of methadone clinics. The regulations would include compliance with the federal requirements that clients receive a minimum of 2.5 hours of counseling per month while in treatment.
“Pennsylvanians are a compassionate people, but for too long that compassion has been exploited through unlimited treatment programs and lack of accountability,” said Ward. “The goal of methadone treatment should be weaning people from the drug, not maintaining its use. It’s time to put restrictions and safeguards in place to protect taxpayers and help those in true need.”
The second bill would restrict methadone clients who participate in the Medical Assistance Transportation Program to four weeks of transportation — including both mileage reimbursement and para-transit services — to the clinic closest to their residence. The LBFC found that that methadone maintenance transportation services cost taxpayers more than $32 million in 2009-10.
“At a time when our state government is cutting programs across the board, that are important to many Pennsylvanians, there is no place for an open-ended taxi service paid for with scarce state tax dollars,” said Ward. “Four weeks is a reasonable amount of time for individuals to get settled into their treatment schedules where other travel arrangements can be made at their own expense. Without limits, there is no incentive,” stated Ward.
The LBFC report was authorized by a measure sponsored by Senator Ward last year. At the request of Senator Ward, State Senator Pat Vance (R-31st), Chair of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee, has agreed to hold public hearings on the measures this spring.
Contact: Tom Aikens