Making treatment for opioid addicts more readily available

State Senator Amanda Ragan

DES MOINES — The Iowa legislature has unanimously voted to cut some government red tape that low-income Iowans encounter as they try to kick an opioid addiction. Medicaid patients getting prescription meds like Methadone for substance abuse treatment must get approval from a private company managing Medicaid before the medication can be dispensed.

Senator Marinnette Miller-Meeks of Ottumwa says that creates problems for low-income Iowans, because Medicaid won’t pay for the prescription unless it’s authorized beforehand. A bill that’s cleared the legislature unanimously directs state officials to make at least one medication for opioid addicts available without prior authorization.

“This helps to fix that problem,” Miller-Meeks said during senate debate Thursday. “In addition to which, when we have a provider shortage in our state, we don’t want our providers spending hours on the telephone in a day or weeks, trying to get prior authorization.”

Senator Amanda Ragan of Mason City agreed.

“It is very important that we offer this opportunity to the providers,” Ragan said, “and I think it’ll make a huge difference in many lives.”

Advocates say the next step is expanding the number of Iowa clinics where recovering addicts can get the prescription medications that are part of their substance abuse treatment plan.

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