Santa Barbara County currently has no 90-day residential drug and alcohol treatment for MediCal recipients, except for pregnant women, and never has. Under a new program unveiled at this week’s supervisors’ meeting, that could change. When that could start and who might provide this care remain questions as yet unanswered. But county Behavioral Wellness executive Alice Gleghorn explained that there’s now an opportunity for state and federal funding for such a program, assuming she and John Doyel — Drug and Alcohol czar — can craft a plan that passes muster with MediCal administrators. That plan has yet to be written. But Gleghorn and Doyel acknowledged it must contain provisions for 90-day residential rehab care for any qualifying addict.
The Affordable Care Act has dramatically increased the number of MediCal enrollees, and another federal law requires insurance policies to provide the same amount of mental health coverage as it does traditional medical care. Furthermore, the feds have relaxed rules making it all but impossible for facilities with more than 16 beds to obtain necessary licenses and permits. “This is huge,” exclaimed Gleghorn, who in her previous job with San Francisco County Health helped expand treatment options for those facing addiction issues. Of the county’s 4,800 unique clients seeking drug and alcohol treatment, roughly 480 — 10 percent — might need residential treatment, said Doyel. With the expansion of MediCal enrollees under the Affordable Care Act early this year, he stated his case load increased by 1,200. The real challenge, both agreed, will be finding a provider capable of delivering the residential care.