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Health

More Marylanders treated for substance abuse

State health officials have leveraged federal funds to offer more people substance abuse treatment, according to a report sent to state lawmakers by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The extra $26 million from fiscal 2009 to fiscal 2012 means that almost 21,000 more people got treatment. The money, a total of $142.8 million, comes from Medicaid and the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration.

"Expanding access to effective treatment for substance abuse is a top priority," said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, secretary of the health department, in a statement.

The new money was made possible by 2009 legislation authorizing an annual transfer of state funds from the alcohol and drug abuse program to the Medicaid program. Medicaid then could draw down matching federal funds and expand the benefits package available to adults.

The health department also increased reimbursement rates to Medicaid provides and made self-referral for services easier.

meredith.cohn@baltsun.com

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