Academic journal article Journal of Human Services

The Affordable Care Act and Addiction Treatment: Preparing the Undergraduate Human Services Professional

Academic journal article Journal of Human Services

The Affordable Care Act and Addiction Treatment: Preparing the Undergraduate Human Services Professional

Article excerpt

Abstract

The steady growth of the substance abuse and addiction field in addition to the passing of the Affordable Care Act (ACT) increases the need for competent and credentialed substance abuse professionals. As generalists in the helping field, human services professionals would benefit from education and sufficient credentialing in substance abuse and addiction treatment. The authors of this article suggest that substance abuse and addiction education be considered for inclusion at the accreditation level for human services programs. Furthermore, a discussion of the Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADC) international credential and its benefits and implications for human services professionals will be presented.

Introduction

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014), the field of substance abuse is expected to grow by 31% percent by the year 2022. This expansion is fueled by the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010, which expands the accessibility of healthcare insurance for individuals with behavioral health needs, which include substance abuse concerns (Karakus, 2014). As a result of this growth, the demand for substance abuse treatment providers will increase, particularly for clients with Medicaid insurance, which is the largest insurance provider in the United States for low-income citizens (Ali, Teich, & Mutter, 2014; Andrews, 2014; Beronio, Glied, & Frank, 2014; SAMSHA, 2014). Despite this growth and increased need for substance abuse treatment providers, human services accreditation standards do not require substance abuse and addiction education as part of the required curriculum for undergraduate human service professionals. Thus, as generalists in the helping field, undergraduate human services professionals could potentially face issues of incompetence in this area as a result of lack of education. This article therefore reviews recent growth and changes in the addiction field, cites accreditation standards in human services, and suggests the incorporation of addiction courses as part of the required curriculum for undergraduate human services professionals. An overview of current credentialing options with suggestions for addiction certification will also be presented. This article ultimately encourages human services education programs to prepare competent professionals that can meet the growing demand for addiction helpers in the field, while also preparing the human services practitioner for service delivery changes as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

The Affordable Care Act and the Human Services Field

As the principle federal agency in charge of implementing the Affordable Care Act, the Department of Health and Human Services has two primary goals: increase insurance coverage and make coverage more affordable (Nordal, 2012). These goals, thus, result in increased coverage for services specific to the addiction field which include, but are not limited to, diagnostic testing, outpatient treatment, partial hospitalization, inpatient and outpatient detoxification, opioid treatment, as well as short and long term residential care (Garfield, Lave, & Donohue, 2010). This increased insurance coverage likewise results in more stringent expectations and requirements for providers regarding certification and licensure to be an active provider in this network (McLellan & Woodworth, 2014). Finally, the establishment of expectations and requirements creates the need for adequate credentialing and minimum education requirements of professionals who provide these billable services. Because of the expanded coverage of these services and growth in the helping field, educational institutions are called to prepare competent professionals who can meet this need.

The Role of the Human Service Professional

The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014) identified substance use and behavioral disorder professionals as those who advise individuals who suffer from chemical addictions or mental disorders. …

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