Medicaid offers new way to improve drug-alcohol services

Dear Partners,
The federal government just provided an important opportunity for your state to do better for people with substance use disorders and mental illness. 
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is encouraging Medicaid waiver proposals to transform the health system by expanding and integrating substance use disorders treatment with physical and mental health care. 
We urge you to schedule a meeting with your state Medicaid officials and substance use and mental health directors about this opportunity and the need to improve Medicaid services for people with substance use disorders.  You can present the waiver as a way for the state to comprehensively address the opioid epidemic by advocating for any and all of the following:
  • Full integration of mental health and substance use services.
  • Access to the full continuum of services consumers need, including prevention, treatment, and recovery supports.
  • More options for inpatient and residential substance use disorders treatment.
  • Additional peer services for treatment and recovery support.
  • Expanded screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT).
  • Strategies to address prescription drug abuse.  
This new waiver offers exciting options to transform the health system so that it provides more effective and integrated care for people struggling with alcohol and drug addiction and mental illness. As states consider ways to streamline and reform their Medicaid systems, advocates can use this waiver opportunity to bring innovative solutions to the table. 
Community Catalyst’s substance use disorders team is available to answer questions about this initiative and support you as you advocate for these changes. We want to hear from you if you pursue this with your state Medicaid officials! Please contact Meredith Munn ( with requests for assistance, guidance, or updates from your state.
Thank you for your continued advocacy.
Alice Dembner 

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