Treatment centers show support for medicaid expansion

10:36 AM, Feb 27, 2014   |    comments
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BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- It is the topic which has caused heated debates and a divide down party lines. Should the state expand Medicaid or Mainecare as it is called in this state. Since the first of the year many have been dropped and some services no longer covered. Among those, substance abuse treatment. The LePage administration says we can't afford to help everyone, but a local drug treatment facility argues addiction is a disease that should not be overlooked. 

Substance abuse falls in the gray area, where it is not considered a disability and therefore not covered under the current Medicaid guidelines. 

Phil Candelmo successfully completed treatment through the Bangor men's halfway house which is funded through Wellspring. 

Candelmo said, "So many people are falling through the cracks with addictions. You know people who don't have Mainecare can't come into these programs."

The halfway home has seen their wait list grow and they have had to turn more people away because they don't have insurance coverage. Or people, like Candelmo, lost coverage midway through treatment so the program is forced to pick up the tab. 

For lawmakers it is a question of whether or not to expand coverage. 

DHHS commissioner Mary Mayhew says it is too expensive and an expansion would cost the state $800 million over the next ten years. Mayhew adds at this point they do not have the money to cover many of the people now in the program.

"What do I say to the parents of a child with autism who is about to graduate from school and those parents are scared because their child is going on an adult wait list. The panic they are dealing with about how to best care for their child with developmental disabilities," said Mayhew.

According to Commissioner Mayhew, there will be a lot of things to consider and programs to look at which are also in need of funding. Programs such as education, money into law enforcement and put more money into county jails. 

The decision of whether or not to expand Mainecare will not be decided for another few weeks. 

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