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WASHINGTON — In light of the opioid epidemic, Virginia is following Maryland’s lead in asking for Medicaid waivers in order to expand drug addiction treatment options.
The Medicaid waiver is a way to get around a federal law that limits drug addiction treatment facilities from getting Medicaid dollars if the treatment facility has more than 16 beds.
By bypassing the federal law with the waiver, more beds can be added for inpatient drug addiction treatment.
Maryland is one of four states that have received a waiver so far. Seven other states, including Virginia, have applied for the waiver.
Earlier this year, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency because of the opioid crisis and formed the “Opioid Operational Command Center,” a virtual task force that organizes training and funding for local anti-addiction teams and collects data on opioid use and abuse.
In 2016 more than 1,000 Virginians died from an opioid overdose.
Studies show that fatal overdoes and jail time increase if a person does not have access to treatment. In 2015 the CDC found that opioid-related deaths soared to a record 33,000 people.
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