That was the message Monday during a House budget subcommittee on health and human services hearing. "All of the research shows that this is a smart thing to do," said Stephen Hall, commissioner of the Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities.
Treating a person with intensive drug addiction services costs $2,500. But an adult who is not treated costs taxpayers more than $23,000 in prison and other costs, Hall said.
Kentucky is "one of only seven states that does not offer substance-abuse treatment in its Medicaid program," reports Beth Musgrave for the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Beshear has proposed an expansion of drug addiction services in his two-year budget, one of few new spending projects. He is requested $11.6 million in the first year of the budget, which would help about 4,500 people. He wants another $14.9 million in the second year of the budget to help about 1,300 people. Kentuckians who are eligible for Medicaid and who have a mental illness and substance-abuse problems will have priority in the program, as will those with substance-abuse issues and custody of a minor child.
Though "many on the House budget committee applauded the move," Musgrave reports, at a time when state agencies are facing 8.4 percent cuts, the spending project is a hard sell. "It's difficult to start any new programs," said Sen. Robert Leeper, an Independent of Paducah and chairman of the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee. (Read more)