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According to Ron Manderscheid, Executive Director of the National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability, substance abuse treatment centers should be prepared for a wave of new patients beginning in January 2014.
The influx of patients will come as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Manderscheid believes, “With the expansion of Medicaid and the state health insurance exchanges, a huge portion of newly enrolled patients [have] behavioral health conditions—about 11 million of the newly enrolled 32 million. At least 60 percent of those will come with primary substance use conditions because [Medicade has excluded them] for so long.”
What Does This Mean?
The patients at treatment centers should expect to see probably don’t have primary care physicians or other healthcare providers on record. Most likely, they will have received past treatment in emergency rooms or in jail. Because of this, Manderscheid says, “There’s a huge knowledge gap in the behavioral health field about this population.”
Additionally, these new patients (with new health benefits) will learn the process for accessing help for their behavioral health conditions. Substance Abuse Centers will become part of a new healthcare system called a “health home” under the Affordable Care Act. These health homes will provide everything from primary care to dental care to behavioral health care. Manderscheid believes substance abuse treatment providers should begin to develop partnerships with those who are developing health homes.