Why does DHHS undermine addiction treatment?

In the midst of an opioid epidemic, the Maine Department of Health & Human Services has “restructured” payments to residential addiction recovery programs in Maine.

Language like that offends me. It’s like when a corporation wants to increase profits by putting people out of jobs and so it “down sizes.”

Recovery ally, Erin Rhoda of Bangor Daily News once again draws our attention to how DHHS is failing those seeking freedom from addiction. She quotes DHHS spokesperson Emily Spencer, who I’m sure is not nearly as horrible a person as those she speaks on behalf of.

For years I’ve joked that I am going to develop an app for your phone. It’s similar to the one Google has that translates from one language to another, except mine will translate bureaucrat/politician to English. Today, I’m unveiling it:

So – Ms. Spencers quotes about this insane undertaking are below, followed in turn by what my app (The Bullshit Detector 5000) translates them to mean:

Ms. Spencer: The change in payment structure “prioritizes the client, bringing them a greater quality of care through a more patient-driven and consumer-centric approach.”

BS5000: We’re looking for ways to save money in a manner that most closely resembles Social Darwinism.

Ms. Spencer: the department has “successfully shifted multiple systems” to the fee-for-service model..”

BS5000: This is far from the first time we have gutted a program.

Ms. Spencer: Overall revenue for the providers has not decreased. “All of them have the same revenue available to bill against,” she said.

BS5000: We haven’t reduced the budget but we will pay far less.

Ms. Spencer: The new structure will lend providers “the opportunity to benefit from a system of care with demonstrated outcomes, with additional reimbursements available based on those outcomes and corresponding volume,”

BS5000: #@&%$!#

At this point in the interview, my phone blew up and the BS5000 reached critical mass and imploded.

Simple: Instead of helping to develop and grow new programs like the social detox program Wellspring operates in Hampden, we’re going to undermine them with new restrictions on reimbursement and by reducing overall financial support.

It’s time to demand change. The system is broken, folks.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim is the cofounder of Sobernow.com an online addiction recovery program that is affordable and provides complete anonymity