Quality & Science

Maine Governor LePage Proposes Eliminating Medicaid Funding for Opioid Treatment Programs

by ASAM Staff | February 20, 2015

Maine Governor LePage Proposes Eliminating Medicaid Funding for Opioid Treatment Programs

Governor LePage of Maine recently proposed eliminating Medicaid funding for opioid treatment programs in Maine. He plans to “transition” individuals recovering from opioid addiction from methadone to buprenorphine-containing medications.

ASAM’s Take

This plan will have profound public and personal health consequences. For many patients recovering from opioid addiction, methadone is the recommended and more effective treatment modality. For example, patients requiring intensive, frequent counseling and accountability reinforcements respond far better to methadone treatment with daily structure than to less intensive office-based treatment with buprenorphine. Patients who have decided to transition from methadone to buprenorphine must undergo a lengthy, often difficult process of physician-monitored methadone tapering, followed by buprenorphine induction and stabilization. In particular, it can be difficult in the outpatient setting for pregnant patients to be successfully transitioned from methadone to buprenorphine and there is a risk of miscarriage. A forced, rapid transition will yield, at best, significant patient discomfort and destabilization and, at worst, relapse and death from overdose or withdrawal. Nearly 4000 Mainers are treated for their opioid addiction in Maine’s eleven methadone clinics. As a result, they are stable and healing. Patient insecurities about personal cost and health implications associated with a forced transition from methadone to buprenorphine would be a de facto barrier to treatment.

What You Can Do:

Contact Governor LePage. An email box is provided on his website for citizens to inform him of their concerns.

Contact your local media. ASAM provides an advocacy toolkit to members and the concerned public, including a sample op-ed, sample letter to the governor, and an archive of past ASAM letters and comments. ASAM has co-signed a letter with other physician organizations to communicate our concerns.

Be sure your voice is heard; treat addiction, save lives.

1 comment

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  1. robert newman Mar 05, 2015 - 12:34 PM

    Agree with allk - - - -and/.but there’s also, paradoxically, a COST barrier.  I checked with a major pharmacy in Portland and the cost of 12 mg suboxone for 30 days is $516.99-   over $6,200 per yar, without considering a penny for physician visits, possible blood test, possible urine tests, possible “supportive services” which as I understand the rules every “waivered” doc must offer directly or through referral . . .etc.  In sum:  switching to buprenorphine probably entails a prohibitive cost -  and this proposal claims to be driven by effort to save Mainers money.   Go figure . . . .     So, has ASAM shared its views with every single Maine legislator?  The Governor’s office?  The various State admin chiefs?  Hope so . . . .

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