Bangor’s Acadia Hospital will no longer provide free methadone treatment to patients as a part of its hospital services, officials say. The change began to take effect in early August to ensure the methadone program’s financial viability, said Brent Scobie, the hospital’s vice president and chief of clinical services.
All acute-care hospitals in Maine are non-profit and must provide a level of free care to poor patients without insurance. However, Acadia moved its methadone program from hospital services to the Acadia Healthcare Corp., a community-based nonprofit that is not required to offer free treatment.
Many methadone clients do not qualify for MaineCare, the state’s Medicaid program, which pays for the majority of services offered at Acadia, a 100-bed psychiatric facility. Of the methadone program’s 550 clients, about 100 were receiving free care, said Scobie. Acadia delivered $4.5 million in unpaid services last year, “a significant majority” of which was provided by the methadone clinic, Scobie said.
MaineCare will pay slightly less for methadone treatment offered by Healthcare Corp., $72 per patient a week, but the loss is more than offset by dispensing with the requirement to provide free care, Scobie said. The Acadia program was the only hospital-based methadone clinic in the state, said Guy Cousins, director of Maine’s Office of Substance Abuse. Eight private non-profit treatment clinics offer 4,400 residents methadone treatment, and none offers free treatment, he said.
Of the clinic’s 100 patients receiving free treatment in early August, about 70 have opted to pay the $72 per-week fee to continue therapy, Scobie said. The others have been working with clinicians for several weeks to taper their daily methadone dosing to an end. Acadia is encouraging them to participate in the hospital’s abstinence- and 12-step-based recovery program, which includes professional counseling.
“For many of these people, when they are provided with the right level of therapeutic support, to say there are no other options [than methadone maintenance], really minimizes the potential for recovery,” Scobie said.
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