In the guidance to state Medicaid programs to better address the opioid epidemic, CMS strongly encourages states to demonstrate the value of evidence-based treatment to meet the needs of people struggling with addiction.
However, Kentucky’s recently approved Medicaid demonstration, the state deviates from evidence-based programs by denying non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) to methadone treatment services.
Intensive outpatient substance abuse programs can require up to 20 hours of treatment per week with initial treatment required 5 days per week. Research shows that transportation increases retention in outpatient drug abuse treatment programs (cite) and the CMS-recommended, American Society of Addiction Medicine’s treatment guidelines recommend Medicaid-paid transportation to address the scarcity of Medicaid practitioners that provide Medication Assisted Treatment.
The state gives no explanation for denying methadone patients access to transportation, required for al Medicaid beneficiaries outside the waiver. CMS decision undermines access to evidence-based treatment and Kentucky’s commitment to combatting the opioid epidemic.