ACA May Cause Washington Recovery Programs to Shutter

By Paul Gaita 03/05/14

Many not-for-profit agencies may be forced to cut back, sell assets, or even close altogether now that federal funding has assumed control of their budgets.

homeless addict.jpg
Some addicts may find themselves on the streets
without care.

Outpatient programs for drug and alcohol treatment in the state of Washington may have received a serious and possibly fatal blow by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare.

A report from Seattle’s KING 5 News has stated that executives at publicly funded addiction recovery centers are facing substantial cutbacks now that federal funding from the ACA has assumed control of their budgets.

In the past, the state has helped these facilities bridge any funding gaps. But with the passage of the ACA, some agencies have been forced to tap their reserve funds to cover the difference or consider ending outpatient services for thousands of Washington residents, or even shuttering their locations altogether. The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), which oversees Washington State’s social service programs, has said that it is the job of the state legislature to authorize the payments needed to keep these non-profits in business.

According to the KING 5 report, the legislature has two weeks to amend the state budget in order to allow or deny these payments. Agencies like the Recovery Centers of King County have considered selling off some of their buildings, while other smaller programs may be forced to close altogether.

What remains out of the equation is the care of patients across the state that rely on counseling and meetings several days per week. “The patients will not go away,” said Recovery Centers of King County CEO Pat Knox, Ph.D. “They will be on long waiting lists to receive treatment, and they will fill the hospitals and jails. More of them will be living on the streets of Seattle and surrounding neighborhoods as their addiction progresses.”

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.