State Gains Approval of Federal Waiver to Transform Substance Use Services

After many many months (actually years) of advocacy the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) received approval from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services of the State’s plan to establish an “organized delivery system” for substance use services. This now opens the way for substantial improvements in access to services for Medi-Cal beneficiaries and to provide a far broader array of treatment, recovery and case management supports.

The Affordable Care Act paved the way for the State to move in this direction. With the newly covered group of individuals, “childless adults”, we know that many people served by our substance use treatment system are now eligible to receive Medi-Cal. The ACA also includes a strong commitment by the Federal government to offset the costs to serve this expanded population.

So now what? DHCS has selected the Bay Area Counties as the phase I for implementation of the waiver and has required counties to submit an implementation plan before the expansion of services can go into effect. In San Mateo, we have been working on the  plan for several months in anticipation of the approval and hope to forward it to the State within the next couple of months. Our substance use treatment providers have also been working hard over the past months to gain certification of their programs by the State and progress has been made with some additional work to be done. In addition, we will be providing training to providers, staff and stakeholders, negotiating our contract with the State and then with our providers, and doing outreach to our key partners in law enforcement, human services and health care on what they can expect with the changes to our system of care.

I cannot overstate how significant this is to clients current and in the future and their loved ones. We will now be able to offer an array of services and supports that match with their treatment and long term recovery needs. For our providers an opportunity to stabilize and to grow their programs.

There will much more to share as we roll out our implementation plan so stay tuned. But for now lets celebrate this trans-formative moment!!