Glitch leaves thousands of Pennsylvania Medicaid beneficiaries without substance abuse treatment

Thousands of Pennsylvania residents are unable to receive treatment for addiction and mental health-related issues thanks to a glitch that occurred back in December, reported Kaiser Health News.

On Dec. 1, the state began transitioning its Medicaid patients to the state-run Medicaid program, Healthy Pennsylvania. But instead of enrolling these beneficiaries into Healthy Plus, the new program for those in need of drug and alcohol treatment centers, these individuals were enrolled in private plans that don't offer such treatment.

When treatment centers realized the glitch, they had two options: Stop covering people who weren't on Medicaid or continue providing care. Michael Harle, president and CEO of the drug and alcohol treatment center Gaudenzia, did the latter.

"We get them treated and fight about it another day," Harle told KHN. "What is most important to us is the client."

Those who are unable to receive the necessary care often find themselves in jail, the emergency room or on the streets. In 2011, Pennsylvania experienced more than 2,000 drug overdose deaths.

Other states have started incorporating alcohol and substance abuse treatments into their Medicaid plans. For instance, Florida began offering the first Medicaid plan designed specifically for people who have serious mental health issues, since mental illness drives the majority of Medicaid costs in the state.

The Department of Health and Human Services addressed Pennsylvania's issue in a letter two weeks ago, noting it was working with health groups to ensure service would not be disrupted, according to KHN.

For more:
- here's the KHN article