DHHS seeks federal waiver and public comment on expanding substance use disorder services

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SununuYouthServices Manchester image by Prime Roofing Corp 1
Sununu Youth Center Photo credit: Prime Roofing Corp

CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will expand access to residential treatment for substance use disorder (SUD) services through a federal waiver. If the waiver is approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), more behavioral health centers providing residential and inpatient hospital SUD treatment services to Medicaid beneficiaries would be eligible for reimbursement.

As part of the process, the DHHS is soliciting public comment. A 30-day public comment period has begun and will continue through March 30, 2018. All comments must be received by 12 p.m. EST on March 30. DHHS will host two public hearings during the public comment period:

  • Tuesday, March 6, 2018 – Manchester 
    6 – 7:30 p.m.
    Manchester Health Department
    1528 Elm Street Manchester, NH
    Call-in option: To participate by phone, call in at 6 p.m. to: 1-866-470-8024
    When prompted, use this code: 965 412 0884
    Snow Date: Thursday, March 8, 2018, 6 – 7:30 p.m., Manchester Health Department
  • Tuesday, March 13, 2018 – Nashua 
    1 – 2:30 p.m.

    Harbor Homes – Partnership for Successful Living
    77 Northeastern Blvd, Nashua, NH
    Snow Date: Wednesday, March 14, 2018, 1-2:30 pm, Harbor Homes Partnership for Successful Living

If accommodations are needed for communication access such as interpreters, CART (captioning), assistive listening devices, or other auxiliary aids and/or services, please contact Leslie Melby at Leslie.Melby@dhhs.nh.gov or 603-271-9074, no later than March 1, 2018. Every effort will be made to accommodate needs identified with advance notice.

“The opioid epidemic may be the most significant public health crisis in the history of our state. The ability to provide treatment services in these institutions is essential for a comprehensive and lasting response to the epidemic,” said DHHS Commissioner Jeffrey A. Meyers. “With some of the highest rates of youth alcohol and drug use, it is particularly important that New Hampshire expand both the outpatient and residential capacity for residents under 18 years of age.”

While the State has spent more than $30 million in the past two years to expand access to SUD treatment and recovery services, New Hampshire lacks adequate capacity for SUD treatment beds. DHHS is requesting CMS to grant a waiver allowing the state to receive federal funds for adults and adolescents who are Medicaid-eligible and receive residential SUD treatment in an Institution for Mental Disease (IMD) for as long as is medically necessary.

The capacity challenges in the entire SUD treatment system are even more evident for those under 18 years old. In 2016, the NH Legislature passed HB517, which required the State to redevelop excess capacity at the existing Sununu Youth Services Center (SYSC) to allow for expansion to a 36-bed residential SUD treatment facility available for adolescents in New Hampshire. The program at SYSC was intentionally designed as a Comprehensive SUD Program, to be in alignment with the existing SUD service delivery system in NH. The initial 16 beds for the program will be available upon opening in July 2018, with the remaining 20 beds opening within a brief time following the federal waiver approval.

After hearing the public’s ideas and comments about the proposed changes, DHHS will make final decisions about what changes to make to the Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery Access Section 1115(a) Research and Demonstration Waiver and then submit to CMS. The summary of comments will be posted for public viewing on this page, along with the waiver application when it is submitted to CMS.

There are several ways to submit your comments to DHHS:

  • Attend either of the two public hearings to be held at the dates/locations noted above. At the public hearings, you may give verbal or written comments to DHHS;
  • Email comments to imdsudwaiver@dhhs.nh.gov; or
  • Mail written comments to:
    Ms. Leslie Melby
    New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services
    Attn: Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery Access Section 1115(a) Research and Demonstration Waiver 
    129 Pleasant Street
    Concord, NH 03301

When mailing or emailing please specify the Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery Access Section 1115(a) Research and Demonstration Waiver. For more information about the waiver application, submitting public comment or attending a public hearing, click here.

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NH Department of Health and Human Services