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Poor Addicts in Utah Facing Loss of Treatment Services

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Up to 90 percent of patients in publicly funded treatment programs in Utah are at or below the poverty line, yet may soon face the prospect of having to pay for treatment services if they are to continue their recovery.

The Provo Daily Herald reported Feb. 1 that the Utah Legislature is expected to slash funding for treatment from the state budget, and few people in public programs have health insurance to pay for treatment or good prospects of getting a job that provides coverage.

In some cases, program participants face the choice of paying for private treatment or the likelihood of going to prison.

“Even if you have a job, the chances that you'd have insurance coverage for substance abuse is pretty small, and the benefits that are offered don't bear any direct relationship to how long the treatment actually takes,” said Richard Nance, director of Utah County's Division of Substance Abuse. “Since the 1980s, most of the responsibility for substance abuse treatment has been shifted off the back of commercial insurers and onto government programs.” 

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