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MediCal May Stop Paying for Methadone Treatment

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California's state Medicaid program would stop paying for methadone maintenance under a plan from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that's aimed at cutting $53 million from MediCal, the Sacramento Bee reported May 26.

If the state legislature approves the plan, only pregnant women and minors would be eligible for MediCal reimbursement for methadone treatment. The move also would cost the state $60 million in federal matching funds.

An estimated 35,000 patients would lose coverage under Schwarzenegger's plan. One expert said that 70-80 percent of addicts in local methadone programs are MediCal patients.

Barry McCaffrey, a former U.S. drug czar, was among the treatment advocates who protested the plan. “Dumping tens of thousands of opiate addicts back on the street would be an immediate disaster to law enforcement, and to the families of people who have become stable, functioning adults,” said McCaffrey.

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