Proposed changes to drug testing has providers concerned

West Virginia News

The Department of Health and Human Resources is proposing changes to substance abuse treatment. The changes would limit the number and type of drug testing for patients. However, those providing care say it could limit their ability to help addicts get clean.

“It is a tool and certainly in substance abuse treatment there is a lot of accountability that’s involved,” Mark Drennan said. Drennan is the Executive Director of the West Virginia Behavioral Healthcare Providers Association. 

Drug testing allows doctors and counselors to know if a patient has relapsed, and whether they are taking their medication. But a new proposal by DHHR would limit the number of tests and the types of drugs doctors can test for under Medicaid.

“They [patients] want to be held accountable and if they know that when they come in on M, W, F that they’re going to get a test every time, then they’re going to make sure that they don’t use,” Drennan explained.

There are two types of drug tests- presumptive and definitive. Presumptive tests are essentially a urine cup or dip stick test and definitive tests are sent to the lab. Presumptive tests are about 60-70% accurate whereas definitive tests are about 99.9% accurate.

“They’re just not very reliable. If you were to use them on yourself you may test positive for something you haven’t used,” Drennan told 13 News.

The new policy would pay for 24 of the presumptive tests 12 definitive tests per year. Drennan says that’s just not enough. 

“Certainly you want to be able to test early and often and then as you build that relationship and you get further along in treatment, you can let it go a little longer and a little longer and certainly that’s part of the treatment process,” Drennan added.

13 News reached out to DHHR several days ago to ask why they proposed these changes and what impact they believe it would have on patients. A spokeswoman says they cannot comment on policies while they are out for public comment.

The policy is still out for public comment until June 1st. If you or a loved one would be impacted by these changes you can comment here.

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