Recent Press Releases

Thune, Hassan, Blackburn Introduce the SAVE IMD Options Act

Senators’ bipartisan legislation would remove barriers for individuals to access substance use disorder treatment

October 19, 2023

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) today introduced the Securing Advances and a Variety of Evidence-Based (SAVE) Institutions for Mental Disease (IMD) Options Act. The bipartisan legislation would establish a permanent state plan option in Medicaid that allows states to provide patients between the ages of 21 to 64 with substance use disorder treatment in IMD. Current law does not allow federal Medicaid funds to be used for those patients at IMD, which include hospitals, nursing facilities, or other institutions with more than 16 beds that provide care for mental health diseases, including substance use disorder.

“As the opioid epidemic and substance use disorders continue to devastate families and communities across South Dakota and the country, it is critical for patients to have access to treatment services,” said Thune. “South Dakota has relied on a state plan option in Medicaid to provide these services for the past five years, and it is critical that patients do not lose access to this life-saving care.”

“Medicaid recipients deserve access to short-term inpatient care at addiction treatment facilities, which can be lifesaving,” said Hassan. “As we continue to work on ways to expand mental health care and support for people struggling with opioid use, the bipartisan legislation that Senators Thune, Blackburn, and I are introducing today will help more people get the treatment that they need and deserve.”

“Since 2021, Tennessee has leveraged the Institutions for Mental Diseases state option to deliver critical treatment and support to individuals suffering from substance use disorders,” said Blackburn. “Making this state option permanent and breaking down barriers to comprehensive care would be a major step in the right direction as we address substance use disorders across our nation.”

“The National Association for Behavioral Healthcare (NABH) strongly supports Senator Thune’s efforts to improve access to substance use disorder services,” said Shawn Coughlin, president and CEO of NABH. “Establishing a permanent state option in Medicaid for substance used disorder treatment provided in IMD will provide states with certainty and ensure individuals have access to this lifesaving treatment.”

“The state mental health commissioners have historically been – and remain – strongly supportive of non-discriminatory Medicaid financing for the full continuum of care for persons with mental health and substance use disorders encompassing outpatient care, intensive intermediate services and inpatient or residential treatment,” said Dr. Brian Hepburn, executive director of the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors. “We applaud Senators Thune, Blackburn, and Hassan for their leadership in the introduction of this important legislation.”

The Substance Use Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act, legislation that was enacted in 2018 to address the opioid epidemic, included a state plan option in Medicaid that allowed federal Medicaid funds to be used for patients in IMD with substance use disorder. However, this option recently expired. Several states, including South Dakota, relied on this program to provide substance use disorder treatment services for patients.