Chris Christie Pledges $100 Million For Drug Treatment In New Jersey

By McCarton Ackerman 01/15/16

The governor's plan includes a rise in reimbursement rates for treatment.

Chris Christie

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is continuing to make drug treatment a major priority in the state. The presidential hopeful has pledged $100 million for drug and mental health treatment facilities throughout the state.

Christie made the announcement during his annual State of the State address last Tuesday. The money will be used to raise Medicaid and state reimbursement rates, as well as turning a recently shutdown prison into a drug treatment facility, among other initiatives. He noted that the Medicaid and state reimbursement rates will be the first major significant increase in over a decade. The Medicaid rate jump will go into effect in July and the state reimbursement hike will begin next January.

"The investment we're making will change lives and get more people into treatment earlier, instead of the emergency room or prison later," Christie said. "It's the fiscally responsible thing to do—and it's the morally right thing to do." He also vowed to have the state expand a recovery coach program that connects counselors with addicts who were revived with the opiate overdose reversal drug naloxone.

State estimates from 2014 show that 40% of state residents who sought treatment didn’t get it, which Christie attributes to the low reimbursement rates. Despite his best efforts, those numbers have even increased slightly since he came into office.

Last August, Christie signed a bill into law that allows drug court participants to use medication-assisted treatments, including Suboxone and methadone. In July 2012, he signed a bill creating a mandatory inpatient drug treatment program for nonviolent offenders who would have otherwise been sent to prison. Christie set aside $2.5 million for the program, roughly half of what would have cost to keep this population locked up in prison.

"In the long run, it will help us financially," Christie said in February 2012. It will also help us because it will make us a better society. It will reclaim families."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.