Thursday, October 20, 2022

Durbin, Underwood call on CMS to address rising rates of substance abuse among seniors

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville, on Wednesday called on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to address the rising rates of substance use disorders among Illinois seniors.

The lawmakers said in a letter to CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure that it is essential that the agency ensure “communities have access to the substance use disorder treatments they need and deserve,” including Medicare coverage of residential treatment centers.

The overall number of drug overdose deaths in Illinois increased by 60 percent between 2013 and 2018, according to the Department of Public Health. During that time, the overdose death rate for those 65 and older increased by more than 86 percent.

“This loss of life is incredibly tragic, but it’s also preventable,” Underwood said in a statement. “Medicare beneficiaries need and deserve high-quality addiction treatment options, and I call on CMS to take swift and comprehensive action to expand access to evidence-based initiatives to prevent and treat substance use disorders among older Americans.”

A CMS spokesperson said they’re committed to addressing the issue and take the letter “seriously.” The agency has outlined a strategy on access to prevention and treatment services for substance use disorder.

“CMS, through its programs, covers a full range of substance use disorder services,” they said.

Jud DeLoss, CEO of the Illinois Association of Behavioral Health, said he appreciated the lawmakers’ calling for better coverage of substance use treatment services under Medicare.

“Expanding affordable treatment access for older adults by providing reimbursement for community-based residential treatment centers would save lives and improve health outcomes for a generation at risk,” he said.