Magazine article The Alcoholism Report

Senator Wellstone Sponsors Congressional Briefing

Magazine article The Alcoholism Report

Senator Wellstone Sponsors Congressional Briefing

Article excerpt

Addressing a packed March 2 congressional briefing, Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN) spoke out in support of services for those suffering the effects of alcohol and other drugs, even if they wind up, as many expect, under mental health. "As we go forward in our deliberations--and we're building a pretty good coalition, and it's quite biparisan--my commitment to you, because I care so much about your work, is that it not just be mental health. We are going to be really focusing in on substance abuse and fighting real hard with you," said Wellstone.

The opening comments from Wellstone provided the backdrop for release of new outcome data from New Standards of Minneapolis and the CATOR (Comprehensive Assessment and Treatment Outcome Research) Registry. The CATOR database contains the psychosocial characteristics and treatment outcomes on more than 25,000 active cases from the public and private sectors.

The new data and subsequent legislative recommendations are based on a sample of 5,320 chemical dependency patients admitted to any combination of residential and outupatient treatment between January 1988 and December 1992. Thirty-five different programs were part of the study, with every patient interviewed at 6 and 12 month intervals after their treatment episode.

Currently, President Clinton's health care reform legislation calls for maximum of 30 days of residential care for all chemical dependency services and mental health treatment in a given year. Using a construct called the "Service Unit," a patient may "trade in" residential days for non-residential settings. The service unit is a common denominator among residential days, partial hospitalization days and outpatient visits. Specifically, one outpatient session is equivalent to one service unit; one inpatient/residential day is equivalent to 4 service units. Following this construct, the number of service units received for mental health and chemical dependency service during the year prior to the chemical dependency treatment epidsode, as wel las the number of service units received during the treatment episode, were calculated for each person.

When compared to those who received no more than 120 service units of chemical dependency treatment during a single treatment episode, one year abstinence rates were somewhat greater for those patients who exceeded the proposed limits. …

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