HCFA to Fund Demos on Substance Abuse Treatment for Pregnant Addicts

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HCFA to Fund Demos on Substance Abuse Treatment for Pregnant Addicts

The Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) plans to fund projects in three to five states to demonstrate substance abuse treatment services under Medicaid to pregnant drug-and alcohol-dependent women and their children.

HCFA Administrator Gail R. Wilensky, Ph.D., disclosed the move in testimony before the House Health Subcommittee in which she declared her agency is "deeply concerned" about the "growing number of substance-abusing pregnant women and their infants who are born drug and alcohol-exposed."

But the projected demonstration was criticized as an inadequate response to the problem of maternal drug addiction by the Coalition on Alcohol and Drug Dependent Women and Their Children, which is pushing for legislation expanding Medicaid to cover, at a state's option, comprehensive drug/alcohol services to pregnant women and their offspring (AR, September). Susan Galbraith, coalition director, told the subcommittee.

"While we applaud HCFA's concerns about these issues, we have serious reservations about a demonstration project. There is a crisis in maternal and child health care related to drug addiction in this nation. States are enacting legislation which amends child abuse statutes to include drug use during pregnancy as child abuse. Poor women and women of color are being treated as criminals in some states because they are addicted to drugs while pregnant. We can hardly afford to respond to this crisis through a modest demonstration project."

The coalition, organized by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, is backing bills by Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) (HR5536) and Sens. Daniel Moynihan (D-NY) and Bill Bradley (D-NJ) (S-3002) that would allow Medicaid to reimburse for comprehensive residential services for pregnant and postpartum alcoholic and drug dependent women, their infants and children. …