How Oregon Tried But Failed To Reform Addiction Treatment System


A year ago, Oregon officials were certain they had devised reforms to rescue the state’s addiction treatment system from decades of neglect, says The Oregonian. Gov. John Kitzhaber was among the optimists who believed health care reform would also transform the addiction system. “We’re going to see significant impact,” the governor said last fall. Instead, state officials are spending money and manpower to fix reforms that don’t work.

Oregonians suffering from substance abuse are still waiting for better care. And taxpayers still aren’t seeing any relief from a public health crisis that costs them an estimated $6 billion a year. The expansion of health coverage has led to a surge among people now insured for addiction treatment. Pam Martin, director of the state Addiction and Mental Health Services Division, acknowledges some clinics have more people seeking service than they can treat. “That’s a clear gap,” she said. State officials acknowledge the state is behind on virtually every step of their vision to serve an estimated 303,000 untreated substance abusers.

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