Indiana will cover methadone for the first time under its Medicaid programs beginning August 1. The state will also add five new opioid treatment programs (OTPs) across the state to help combat the ongoing drug abuse epidemic.
“Studies have shown that patients receiving methadone are more likely to remain in treatment and reduce opioid use compared with placebo or non-medication treatment,” Walthall said in prepared remarks.
The announcement came Wednesday at the Valle Vista treatment center in Greenwood. Indiana Family and Social Services Administration Secretary Jennifer Walthall says the center is becoming a certified opioid treatment program and will treat opioid addiction with the drug methadone, as well as other forms of medication.
Methadone is one of three FDA-approved medicines to treat opioid addiction. It reduces cravings and evidence shows it can help people with long-term recovery.
States have a significant amount of flexibility when it comes to deciding which treatments are covered by their respective Medicaid programs. According to the most recent data available from the American Society of Addiction Medicine, 16 states (excluding Indiana) don't offer Medicaid coverage for methadone treatment at all.
Indiana Medicaid already covered the two other FDA-approved medicines.
“Indiana Medicaid members, including all Healthy Indiana Plan members, will have coverage for all services provided in an opioid treatment program, including coverage of methadone for opioid use disorder,” says Walthall.
Amy Rardon is in treatment now using methadone. She’s been addicted to pain pills for 10 years.
“We’re normal people just like everyone, we just want to work and be part of the population, we just go and get our treatment and live our lives,” Rardon says.
Legislators passed laws in the last two years that permitted the state to certify more opioid treatment programs and required those programs to participate in Medicaid.
The policy allowing methadone to be covered by Medicaid, on the other hand, is an FSSA administrative change and not a legislative one.
“Adding methadone maintenance treatment as a covered services gives physicians another treatment option for patients struggling with addiction,” Walthall says. She adds offering these medications at opioid treatment programs allows the treatment to be “accompanied by counseling and support services.”
The certification of the five additional opioid treatment programs where Hoosiers can access methadone will bring the state’s total to 19 spread across the state.
The new sites are strategically placed to address access issues. Gov. Eric Holcomb says the locations are based on an analysis of data on recent overdose deaths, drug seizures, and naloxone administration.
“We’re meeting the need where it is most urgent,” Holcomb says.
Indiana ranks 15th in the nation for overdose deaths.
The new programs—in Allen, Johnson, Monroe, Vigo and Tippecanoe Counties—are anticipating to begin offering services next summer.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the number of state Medicaid programs that cover methadone.
This story was produced by a collaboration between Side Effects Public Media and IPB News