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Medicaid patients with substance-use-disorder will have increased access to medical facilities

A hospital worker walks past an empty bed in a hospital hallway.
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A hospital worker walks past an empty bed in a hospital hallway.

State health officials say that Montanans on Medicaid will now have increased access to substance-use-disorder treatment. That’s because the federal government has waived a restriction on what types of facilities can provide care for Medicaid patients.

According to the state health department, federal law prevents Medicaid from paying for in-patient substance use treatment at facilities known as institutions for mental disease that have more than 16 beds.

In a press release, the state health department and Gov. Greg Gianforte’s office said the state has received a federal waiver that will allow Montanans on Medicaid to receive short-term in-patient drug treatment services at these larger facilities.

It's unclear how many more treatment beds will be made available, but health officials expect wait-times for people on Medicaid to decrease significantly. This will allow patients to be quickly stabilized before they are referred to out-patient care.

State health officials say they are actively working to get other waivers approved that will allow Medicaid to pay for more community-based treatment and recovery services.

Aaron Bolton is Montana Public Radio's Flathead Valley reporter.