Vic Vela, Colorado Public Radio Host, shared his story of recovery from addiction and the hope that can come with that recovery. Neerja Singh, behavioral health clinical director at Minnesota Medicaid, offered insight on how Medicaid leaders can remove administrative barriers to make sure people, like Vic, have access to services and supports when they are ready to begin the recovery journey.
In the conversation at NAMD’s Fall Conference, there were three key pieces of advice for Medicaid leaders:
Make sure easy access to treatment is available. When people are ready to begin their recovery journey, there needs to be easy to access treatment. If people have to wait, it could literally kill them.
Have compassion. Clinicians need to recognize that people need help. Primary care providers need to screen for mental health and addiction, but also make sure people feel safe responding to the screening tool in an honest way that can help them get the care and supports they need.
Community is key. For Vic, having a friend in recovery to call when he was ready to get sober was critical. Medicaid programs can support this community through peer supports, but they must challenge themselves to remove the red tape to access these services and to build the workforce of peers. It can’t be burdensome to become a peer and peers need to make a living from the work.