Access to Substance Abuse Treatment Increased Under Oregon’sMedicaid Managed Care System, JAMA Study Says:
Implementing a capitated substance abuse benefit in Oregon's Medicaid managed care program appears to have increased recipients' access to such services, according to a study in the Oct. 25 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. After expanding Medicaid eligibility in 1994, Oregon in 1995 added the capitated substance abuse treatment benefit to "improve integration of substance abuse treatment with other health care" and increased primary care capitation payments to encourage providers to screen patients for substance abuse. Led by Dr. Dennis Deck of RMC Research Corporation and Dr. Bentson McFarland of the Oregon Health Sciences University, researchers studied access rates for clients ages 12-64 between 1994 and 1998. Researchers determined that clients' access rates increased from 5.5% under the fee-for-service program in 1994 to 7.7% under the capitated system in 1997. Researchers also noted that Oregon's Medicaid managed care program achieved the "highest access rate in 1997" through "extensive outreach among potential clients, routinely screen[ing] for substance abuse and maintain[ing] strong ties with social service providers." Overall, the study "suggests that appropriate financial and organizational arrangements facilitate access to substance abuse treatment," adding that Oregon's model might be useful for other states that are looking for ways to improve access to substance abuse treatment for Medicaid recipients (NIH release, 10/24). The JAMA study is available at http://jama.ama-assn.org/issues/current/pdf/joc00825.pdfThis is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.