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Rep. David C. Burns (R-Whiting)
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For Immediate Release

Date: 03/26/12

Release: Legislation subjects methadone patients to tougher standards

AUGUSTA - Drug addicts receiving taxpayer-funded methadone treatments will need special authorization to continue treatment beyond 24 months, under a bill now moving to the full Legislature.

The Health and Human Services Committee yesterday passed LD 1840, which stipulates that MaineCare members getting methadone at clinics will need advance authorization to continue past the two-year mark. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will work with experts in the field of substance abuse addiction and recovery to develop rules for prior authorization.

State Rep. David Burns (R-Whiting), the bill's sponsor, says 24 months of methadone treatment is long enough to determine if a patient has a medical need to continue. "Under the current system, addicts can receive methadone for years - it's open-ended," he said. "This is expensive treatment, and since the taxpayers are paying the bill it's only fair that we put some oversight in place."

In 2010, the most recent year for which complete figures are available, 3,971 people used methadone at clinics, costing MaineCare $10.27 million. In 2000, by comparison, 487 addicts were in MaineCare's methadone program, costing $1.2 million.

In related legislation, the House and Senate have now passed LD 1694, which directs DHHS to review reimbursements for MaineCare members traveling to and from service locations, including, but not limited to, freestanding methadone clinics. The House passed the bill on March 15 and the Senate cleared it yesterday.

Rep. Burns, who also sponsored this bill, said there are many complaints about abuses in the system. "When you can have four people riding in one car to a clinic and then getting four different reimbursement checks for mileage, that is an issue that needs to be addressed," he said.

'The intent of my bill is to make sure that DHHS has guidelines so each provider, each transportation company and each member are working under the same system to discourage fraud and detect fraud if it occurs," he said. "We do not want to deny a deserving person from obtaining legitimate services." ###

Jay Finegan
Maine House Republicans
Tel: (207) 287-1445