A bipartisan, collaborative effort to extend Medicaid benefits for postpartum substance abuse treatment has been approved by the Missouri House.
House Bill 2280 extends MO HealthNet benefits for pregnant women who are receiving substance abuse treatment within 60 days of giving birth for up to 12 additional months. Any participating woman must follow the treatment in order to benefit.
Bill sponsor Marsha Haefner (R-St. Louis) said extended treatment has been proven necessary for success.
“Opioid and substance abuse during pregnancy is on the rise, with opioid use during pregnancy mirroring that of the general population,” said Haefner. “The current time offered for substance use disorder treatment, which is 60-days for these new moms, does not allow for enough treatment for most women to experience success with recovery. If a new mom is doing well then loses support and treatment for her abuse she will often relapse. Another risk of pulling treatment too soon is after a period of non-use, women experience an increased risk of overdosing because their tolerance is low.”
Stevens told lawmakers she was glad that the bill will cover a full range of treatments.
She said that one thing that came out of the committee hearing on the bill was that, “new moms need not just substance use disorder treatment. That we really need to have comprehensive, wrap-around services, and so I’m very pleased that this bill is full Medicaid coverage so that these new moms can get substance use disorder treatment, they can get mental health care, they can go see a primary doctor, and really support them that first year after giving birth.”
Representative Faith Walker commended the lawmakers involved in the legislation for the bipartisan effort that led to its passage.
“It is a very common sense, evidence-based approach to dealing with the opioid epidemic here in the State of Missouri and it will both save taxpayer dollars as well as save lives,” said Faith Walker. “I want to encourage the body to look at this effort that was put forward by all the bill sponsors moving forward for the rest of the session.”
Representative Keith Frederick (R-Rolla) said the bill represents something the legislature should do to help the most vulnerable in the state.
The bill’s projected cost is more than $4-million dollars through 2021, but Haefner noted it would save the state money that would have gone to caring for children who could go to state care if their mothers aren’t afforded treatment, and other cost avoidance. She said the budget the House is debating this week also includes money to pay for the projected costs to extend this coverage.
The bill has been sent to the Senate for its consideration. If it becomes law, the state will have to seek a waiver from the federal government to allow for the program to be created and implemented. Missouri would be the first state to seek such a waiver.
Haefner is hopeful the state could get an answer from the federal government by the beginning of 2019.