If the budget proposed by Gov. Steve Beshear is passed, 6,000 Kentuckians on Medicaid could be treated for substance abuse, ultimately saving the tax system hundreds of thousands of dollars.
That was the message Monday during a House budget subcommittee on health and human services hearing. “All of the research shows that this is a smart thing to do,” said Stephen Hall, commissioner of the Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities.
Treating a person with intensive drug addiction services costs $2,500. But an adult who is not treated costs taxpayers more than $23,000 in prison and other costs, Hall said.
Kentucky is “one of only seven states that does not offer substance-abuse treatment in its Medicaid program,” reports Beth Musgrave for the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Beshear has proposed an expansion of drug addiction services in his two-year budget, one of few new spending projects. He is requested $11.6 million in the first year of the budget, which would help about 4,500 people. He wants another $14.9 million in the second year of the budget to help about 1,300 people. Kentuckians who are eligible for Medicaid and who have a mental illness and substance-abuse problems will have priority in the program, as will those with substance-abuse issues and custody of a minor child.
Though “many on the House budget committee applauded the move,” Musgrave reports, at a time when state agencies are facing 8.4 percent cuts, the spending project is a hard sell. “It’s difficult to start any new programs,” said Sen. Robert Leeper, an Independent of Paducah and chairman of the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee. (Read more)