SALEM — Eric Spofford, CEO of Granite Recovery Centers, said Tuesday his company will begin accepting patients next year who receive their health care coverage through Medicaid.
That decision is based on the new Medicaid rates proposed by the state Department of Health and Human Services and announced by Gov. Chris Sununu’s office on Tuesday.
According to the announcement, daily reimbursement rates for high-intensity, residential substance abuse disorder (SUD) treatment services would increase from $162.60 per patient to $347.17 as of Jan. 1.
Th announcement came as welcome news to Spofford and other treatment providers in the state who were bracing for a potential net decrease in state contributions after the premium access program expires at the start of next year.
“I imagine the treatment-provider community is breathing a sigh of relief with this news,” Spofford said.
Peter Kelleher, the CEO of Harbor Homes and its sister organization Keystone Hall, an addiction treatment provider in Nashua, said they are relieved by the rate increase.
“On behalf of Keystone Hall, we’re very pleased to see the state move in the direction of increased rates,” Kelleher said.
He said it was a “good step” toward funding Medicaid patients, but added the increase doesn’t fully cover the full cost of treating those patients.
Cheryl Wilkie, chief operating officer of the Farnum Center in Manchester, echoed Kelleher’s sentiments.
“This is a step in the right direction and we appreciate the increase in rates,” Wilkie said in a written statement. “This increase excludes covering any cost for detox services and it does not cover any of the expenses for non-opioid treatment for Medicaid patients, which is close to 40 percent of all clients that come to us from the state. This is real progress, but there is still a gap in reimbursements that puts great pressure on nonprofits’ ability to afford to provide this treatment.”
Spofford said in July that if Medicaid rates weren’t enough to cover the base costs of the patients, treatment providers across the state would likely be forced to downsize.
Spofford also said he was holding off on increasing capacity in Granite Recovery Centers until he found out what the new rates would be.
“This is great leadership at work from Gov. Sununu,” Spofford said.
According to the announcement, the increase will bring New Hampshire’s rates in line with other New England states. It was made possible, in part, by a payment from the recent $45.8 million State Opioid Response Grant, which is also funding the state’s “hub-and-spoke” initiative as well as expanded access to medication-assisted treatment.
“The Department’s efforts to raise residential inpatient SUD treatment services is another critical step in the process to ensure our providers have the means and workforce they need,” Sununu said in a statement.
Granite Recovery Centers has not treated Medicaid patients since the company began operations in 2008. The for-profit company now has 284 treatment beds across multiple facilities and 200 full-time employees.
Spofford said it’s too soon to say how much he will be able to expand capacity but said the organization will accept as many new patients as it can. He said they receive dozens of calls each day from Medicaid patients seeking treatment.
Spofford said the organization will work quickly to set up the new contracts and he expects to be able to start offering the service sometime in the first quarter of 2019.
Treatment providers who were already accepting Medicaid patients were doing so at an operational loss, but would make up for it with the high reimbursement rates from the premium access program, Spofford said. Providers won’t be able to continue that practice come Jan. 1, he said.
The matter will go before the Executive Council during its Wednesday meeting.