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New Hampshire Delegation Applauds Approval of Medicaid Waiver to Expand Substance Use Disorder Treatment Availability in New Hampshire

(Washington, DC)—U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Congresswomen Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) and Annie Kuster (NH-02), welcomed approval of New Hampshire’s request to allow Medicaid recipients suffering from substance use disorders to receive treatment from larger inpatient substance use disorder and mental health treatment facilities for short-term stays. The waiver addresses the Medicaid Institution for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion, which bars Medicaid matching funds from being used to treat Medicaid beneficiaries in mental health facilities with more than 16 beds. This exclusion places burdens on smaller facilities to meet service capacity needs that exceed the smaller facilities’ resources. In April, the New Hampshire delegation wrote a letter to the Trump administration requesting approval of this necessary waiver to help meet the high demand for substance use disorder treatment.  

“Only a fraction of Granite Staters with substance use disorders are getting the treatment they need due to a lack of treatment availability,” said Senator Shaheen. “I’m very pleased that the administration has taken this overdue step to broaden access to treatment facilities. It’s heartbreaking that so many who desperately need help are being turned away or put on wait lists. Every effort must be made at the federal level to work with states to address the opioid crisis, and this waiver is a common sense decision that will help deliver services to those who need it most.”

“As the fentanyl, heroin, and opioid epidemic continues to devastate communities across our state, it is critical that Granite Staters struggling with substance misuse have the help they need when they need it,” said Senator Hassan. “I am pleased that the Department of Health and Human Services has heeded our request to approve a waiver for New Hampshire that will expand access to treatment and recovery services for those who need it most. While I am encouraged by this step, we must continue working at all levels of government to strengthen prevention, treatment, recovery, and support for law enforcement so that we can stem – and ultimately reverse – the tide of this deadly epidemic that’s taking innocent lives every single day.”

“I am pleased that CMS has approved New Hampshire’s 1115 waiver to provide additional residential and inpatient services for Medicaid beneficiaries,” said Congresswoman Shea-Porter. “Serving on the front lines, Granite State service providers must have all the necessary tools at their disposal to turn the tide in this crisis. While these waivers are important, we must continue to work in Congress to ensure that special waivers are not needed for service providers to offer life-saving treatments.”

“New Hampshire has been hard hit by the opioid epidemic and a critical component of overcoming this challenge will be expanding access to recovery and treatment services,” said Congresswoman Kuster the founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Heroin and Opioid Task Force. “I’m encouraged that the Department of Health and Human Services has approved New Hampshire’s request to waive the IMD exclusion so that Medicaid funding can be used with more flexibility to treat substance use disorder. Those on the frontlines of this crisis in New Hampshire have been doing incredible work to expand access to treatment through innovative techniques, and I’m hopeful that we can serve as an example around the country for how to overcome the opioid epidemic.”

Senator Hassan cosponsored the Medicaid CARE Act, which would modify the Medicaid Institutions for Mental Disease Exclusion by expanding Medicaid coverage to pay for up to 40 treatment beds at larger substance misuse and behavioral health treatment facilities for up to 60 consecutive days.

Congresswoman Kuster has been a vocal critic of the Medicaid Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion and has introduced the bipartisan Road to Recovery Act to eliminate the IMD exclusion. In June, Congresswoman Shea-Porter voted in favor of the IMD CARES Act. This bill, which passed the House 261-155 on June 20, would allow Medicaid beneficiaries aged 21 to 64 and with an opioid use disorder to be covered if they receive inpatient care at an institution for mental diseases. She is also an original cosponsor of the Road to Recovery Act.