First, Maine imposed two-year caps on methadone and buprenorphine treatment, if paid for by MaineCare, the state’s Medicaid program. The caps were due to take effect January 1, but treatment advocates were able to work out a medical-necessity exemption, which said that as long as patients were doing well, they could stay past the two-year limit.
Never mind that this made no sense—patients who are not doing well should be kicked off treatment—to go where, the streets? In any event, it was better than nothing. But in March, a new bill was introduced that would have eliminated even the medical necessity exemption. Two years on treatment, and that’s it.
Mark Publicker, MD, president of the Northern New England Society of Addiction Medicine, who helped lead the advocates’ battle for the medical necessity exemption, is “back in the saddle”—pressing the state legislature and the regulators for a reasonable approach.
Under the proposed bill, as of January 1, 2015 no patient would be allowed to be on methadone or buprenorphine for more than two years, if paid for by Medicaid.
“It’s outrageous,” he told AT Forum.