Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has joined 38 attorney’s general from other states to push Congress to pass legislation that would eliminate a restriction that prevents large drug treatment centers from billing Medicaid.

The attorneys general made their case this week in a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for legislative support for the “Road to Recovery Act,” which would lift the current Medicaid Institutions for Mental Diseases exclusion.

The legislation was introduced in June by Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick and is pending in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The attorneys general are the latest to support the legislation.

The House Bipartisan Heroin Task Force also called for passage as part of its proposed legislative agenda for the current Congress. Fitzpatrick is vice chair of the House Task Force.

Created in 1965 to prevent Medicaid funding from going to private mental health institutions, the rule prevents drug treatment centers with more than 16 beds from billing Medicaid for residential treatment services. Many lawmakers say this rule is a major obstacle – for those suffering from substance abuse — to receive inpatient treatment.

The AG’s said changing the Medicaid drug treatment rule would expand access to treatment during the current opioid addiction epidemic. They want the focus to be on causes of drug addiction, including the lack of treatment for those suffering from addictions. –PW