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Drug Treatment May Be Harder to Find

If Southeast Louisiana Hospital closes, it could take other important medical functions on the way out. For example, according to reporting from WBRZ News, a privately operated drug and alcohol treatment center might close as well. In this case, the Florida Parishes Human Services Authority facility, consisting of 64 beds, would lose the advantages of leasing property on hospital grounds. While it may seem like a little thing, items like grounds keeping and security are handled by the hospital and represent real savings for the operation.

If the hospital closes, the drug treatment center goes as well, shifting services to already burdened state programs. And, ironically, this comes at a time when insurance mandated by the Affordable Care Act will give new addiction coverage to many citizens in Louisiana. Obamacare has a provision for both diagnosis and coverage of substance abuse. Although the coverage limits vary by policy, all approved health insurance plans under the ACA offer it, and initial screening is free. Diagnosis of mental illness, particularly depression is expected to rise as a result. Substance abuse disorder also falls under the mental health category.

The net effect may be a sudden influx of patients seeking services, just when those services are being trimmed. Those who have held off treatment because they can’t afford it may be left competing for spots with court-ordered cases and others in the system.

The problem can’t be met with self help groups like AA and NA either. These 12-step style groups are fine, and serve a useful purpose, but they simply aren’t set up to administer the around-the-clock care an addict in withdrawal needs. By having the treatment center linked to the hospital, medical care was readily available, something that’s hard to duplicate in other residential treatment programs.

From the state’s point of view, closing the hospital makes good fiscal sense. The claim is a savings of $200 per bed by consolidating patient care across the system.

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