CMS encourages states to seek demonstration waivers for services related to substance abuse

July 28, 2015

CMS issued a letter to state Medicaid directors encouraging states to pursue demonstration waivers to improve services for individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs). These may include waivers of the longstanding "institution for mental diseases" exclusion and other federal Medicaid rules. The CMS letter urges state Medicaid directors nationwide to consider innovative section 1115 demonstration waiver proposals incorporating evidence-based SUD services, care standards, service delivery networks, care coordination, information sharing to facilitate care transitions and integration of SUD services with other primary and preventive care. The CMS initiative is one aspect of a multi-pronged strategy announced by HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell in an address to the National Governors Association about the nationwide epidemic of opioid abuse.