State

DHHS delays change addiction agencies said would put programs at risk

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services has decided to delay changes for six months that addiction treatment agencies had said would threaten their operations in the middle of an opioid crisis.

The department recently sent letters to organizations across the state to notify them that their current contracts to provide services such as counseling, residential care and detoxification will remain in place until Jan. 1, 2019, which is when they will have to start billing for each individual service they provide.

“The granting of this 6-month extension is to allow you to make whatever changes are necessary to be fully prepared to operate under the new structure by this date,” wrote Sheldon Wheeler, director of the Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services.

DHHS had originally said the payment model change would happen July 1 and had given the organizations less than two months to make the switch.

Doing away with annual contracts with the state that provide agencies with regular sums throughout the year, and instead reimbursing the agencies on a fee-for-service model, especially with little notice, “would have been disastrous,” Malory Otteson Shaughnessy, executive director of the Alliance for Addiction and Mental Health Services, said.

The Fiddlehead Focus/St. John Valley Times is pleased to feature content from our sister company, Bangor Daily News. To read the rest of “DHHS delays change addiction agencies said would put programs at risk,” an article by contributing Bangor Daily News staff writer Erin Rhoda, please follow this link to the BDN online.

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