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First-of-its-kind waiver blunts decades-old discriminatory Medicaid policy that spurred nationwide bed shortage crisis

Source: Treatment Advocacy Center

CMS announced that the District of Columbia has been granted a "first-of-its-kind" waiver of the IMD exclusion, a decades-old federal law that hinders states' ability to provide hospital care for mental illness. With their waiver approved, DC may now seek Medicaid reimbursement for care provided in certain mental health facilities defined as "institutions for mental disease.

The Treatment Advocacy Center's #aBedInstead campaign highlights how disastrous the IMD exclusion has been for individuals in psychiatric crisis.

"For decades, the IMD exclusion has stood in the way of desperately-needed hospital care for people with mental illness, forcing them into our jails, emergency rooms and streets," said 

John Snook, executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center. "This federally sanctioned discrimination against people with mental illness is medically, legally and morally indefensible. DC's waiver will avert tragedy, promote recovery and point the way forward for a nation that has abandoned its most vulnerable citizens."

HHS Secretary Alex Azar echoed these sentiments in the CMS comment yesterday, stating, "For too long, our system has failed to provide Americans with serious mental illness and their families the treatment and assistance that they need."

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