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State OKs Medicaid rule change for addiction treatment staff with criminal records


Source: Health Policy Institute of Ohio

A number of people recovering from addiction who are employed in drug and alcohol treatment centers could lose their jobs under new Ohio Medicaid rules that consider past criminal convictions (Source: State Panel OKs Ohio Medicaid’s Plan for Drug Treatment Workers with Convictions,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, September 19, 2018).

The rules require people recovering from addiction—and everyone else who provides behavioral health and addiction services—to register as Medicaid providers for billing purposes. They must undergo criminal background checks—and if the screenings show they’ve been convicted of crimes, the providers may not be able to offer services, or they may have to wait years before they can.

Some Ohio mental health advocates have expressed concern about the rules—which the majority on a state panel approved Monday. Advocates argued people recovering from addiction who provide peer recovery services offer other addicts real-life experience and the hope for change. Studies have shown peer recovery can be effective.

The rules are the result of changes in Ohio Medicaid billing that went into effect on July 1. Prior to July 1, the workers’ employers usually billed for their services. But this summer, managed care organizations began reimbursing drug treatment centers, and the state is requiring all providers to get a Medicaid billing number to make billing more precise and to allow the department to better track treatment trends and successes.

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