Outcomes for medicaid clients with substance abuse problems before and after managed care

  • Bentson H. McFarland
  • Dennis D. Deck
  • Lynn E. McCamant
  • Roy M. Gabriel
  • Douglas A. Bigelow
Regular Articles


Medicaid conversion from fee for service to managed care raised numerous questions about outcomes for substance abuse treatment clients. For example, managed care criticisms include concerns that clients will be undertreated (with too short and/or insufficiently intense services). Also of interest are potential variations in outcome for clients served by organizations with assorted financial arrangements such as for-profit status versus not-for-profit status. In addition, little information is available about the impact of state Medicaid managed care policies (including client eligibility) on treatment outcomes. Subjects of this project were Medicaid clients aged 18–64 years enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan during 1994 (before substance abuse treatment managed care, N=1751) or 1996–1997 (after managed care, N=14,813), who were admitted to outpatient non-methadone chemical dependency treatment services. Outcome measures were retention in treatment for 90 days or more, completion of a treatment program, abstinence at discharge, and readmission to treatment. With the exception of readmission, there were no notable differences in outcomes between the fee for service era clients versus those in capitated chemical dependency treatment. There were at most minor differences among various managed care systems (such as for-profit vs not-for-profit). However, duration of Medicaid eligibility was a powerful predictor of positive outcomes. Medicaid managed care does not appear to have had an adverse impact on outcomes for clients with substance abuse problems. On the other hand, state policies influencing Medicaid enrollment may have substantial impact on chemical dependency treatment outcomes.


Substance Abuse Health Plan Substance Abuse Treatment Substance Abuse Problem Oregon Health 
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Copyright information

© National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bentson H. McFarland
    • 1
  • Dennis D. Deck
    • 2
  • Lynn E. McCamant
    • 3
  • Roy M. Gabriel
    • 4
  • Douglas A. Bigelow
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, CR-139Oregon Health & Science UniversityPortland
  2. 2.RMC Research CorporationPortland
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryOregon Health & Science UniversityPortland
  4. 4.RMC Research CorporationPortland
  5. 5.Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Department of PsychiatryOregon Health & Science UniversityPortland

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