State halts Medicaid payments to detox center, leaving void for thousands
BATON ROUGE- The State Department of Health confirmed Tuesday that Medicaid stopped paying the Baton Rouge Detox Center on Foster Drive reimbursements over a lack of accreditation.
The accreditation from one of three different agencies is the gold standard that the state uses and is required for clinics to get Medicaid dollars.
The Baton Rouge Area Alcohol and Drug Center lacks that accreditation and the state notified them Tuesday their payments would be suspended. The lack of reimbursements is a huge problem, as the clinical director said approximately 90 to 95 percent of the patients that seek treatment there are on Medicaid.
Tonja Myles is a Peer Support Specialist at the Capital Area Human Services District.
"The Baton Rouge Detox Center is vital to our community," Myles said. "What happens to the clients? I had one person call and they said they didn't take their Medicaid. They said they weren't in network. Unfortunately, that person had to leave without getting the help they need. Those beds are vital."
According to statistics released in 2018 from the Louisiana Department of Health, 400 Louisiana residents died the previous year as a result of the opioid crisis. That's a 20-percent increase from the year before.
No one at the Baton Rouge Detox Center wanted to talk on camera, but the clinical director said with the state suspending Medicaid payments, the future of the facility and its employees is uncertain.
The accreditation that is at the center of all of this is called CARF, Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities.
Dr. Jan Laughinghouse with Capital Area Human Services is familiar with CARF accreditation and the importance of why the state mandates it for Medicaid reimbursements.
"It would make one wonder what the deficits were there in the client care or the practices that were being used and the level of staff and personnel they had there that did not enable someone to get CARF accreditation or to lose it," Laughinghouse said. "Once you get it, you have to maintain that level of care as well."
Laughinghouse and Myles both said there will be a void in the community if something happens to Baton Rouge Detox because it's a much-needed service. However, those in the industry said if something happens to the facility they'll be working together to get people treatment elsewhere.
The center released the following statement Friday.
"Baton Rouge Area Alcohol and Drug Center, known as Baton Rouge Detox, has served thousands of families in the Baton Rouge area since 1972. In 2018 alone, Baton Rouge Detox has helped over 2,000 families suffering from addiction.
Baton Rouge Detox has currently been made aware of an unexpected insurance requirement which threatens its ability to operate. Application to meet this requirement was made over a month ago. Unfortunately, the certification authority is backlogged and unable to act in an expedient manner.
Baton Rouge Detox is working diligently to overcome this current difficulty and continue to meet the needs of the community."
The center employs 40 people ranging from nurses to counselors.