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Governor Mills Announces Investments to Expand Substance Use Disorder Services in Kennebec and Washington Counties

MAINE, December 11 - Back to current news.

December 11, 2023

Mills Administration is investing $3.5 million to support an innovative walk-in crisis center in Kennebec County and expanded treatment beds in Washington County

Governor Janet Mills announced today that her Administration and local partners are taking steps to expand access to substance use disorder treatment services in Kennebec and Washington counties.

The effort comes after the Governor and Legislature appropriated funding to establish a substance use disorder (SUD) treatment program in either Kennebec or Washington County. But, given the urgent needs in both communities, Governor Mills committed to funding programs in both counties during her 5th Annual Opioid Summit as part of her Administration's efforts to address the opioid epidemic.

Today's announcement fulfills the Governor's pledge.

"These investments, along with the collaborative work being done by our local partners, will help ensure that more Maine people suffering from substance use disorder can access the treatment they need to begin the lifelong path to recovery," said Governor Janet Mills. "My Administration will continue to work in partnership with the Legislature and the recovery community to prevent and treat addiction and to save lives."

"Strengthening the capacity of treatment programs across the state helps individuals struggling with substance use disorder access highly-quality care when they need it," said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew and Office of Behavioral Health Director Sarah Squirrell. "These projects will advance models of care and help to save lives in both communities."

"To implement a true public health response, we must increase access to life saving treatment for Mainers with substance use disorder," said Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross, who sponsored the legislation to expand SUD treatment services in either Kennebec or Washington Counties."This begins by ensuring that detox is available to anyone who wants it at the moment they are ready - no matter where they live in the state. That both Kennebec and Washington Counties will be receiving expanded treatment options means that more Mainers can receive the compassionate care necessary to combat addiction and have access to the support and resources necessary for recovery. By working in partnership with the Legislature, law enforcement, people in recovery, harm reductionists, and community members, we can continue to remove barriers to care and ensure that all Maine people have the renewed opportunity to lead healthy and fulfilling lives."

"These two significant investments fulfill a commitment Governor Mills made during her fourth annual opioid summit last year to further expand the availability of substance use disorder treatment services across Maine," said Gordon Smith, Director of Opioid Response. "The investments are also the product of strong collaboration across the state and Legislature, and I appreciate the effort of all involved to get this done."

At the Governor's direction, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) identified additional existing funding for capital and start-up costs and developed a tailored plan to support expanded SUD treatment capacity in both Kennebec and Washington counties.

As a result, DHHS will invest a total of up to $3.5 million to support access SUD services in both counties through two complementary projects designed to advance models of care and expand traditional treatment capacity.

In Kennebec County, DHHS's Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) will support an innovative SUD Receiving Center and Medically Monitored Withdrawal ('Detox') Program. This facility will be the first of its kind in Maine, combining a traditional, 10-bed withdrawal management program with a walk-in receiving center that will operate 7 days a week from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Individuals may walk into the facility with no appointment and receive triage services, screening and assessment, referral for ongoing needs, and a bridge to treatment services such as individual and group therapy, wound care, and medication management. Staff for the center will be comprised of a multidisciplinary team. At least 40 percent of the occupancy in the center will be available to individuals who have coverage through MaineCare. The legislative appropriation included $400,000 in one-time funding for the development of the center, and $1.6 million for the ongoing operations of the center.

In Washington County, OBH is making available up to $1.5 million to establish additional SUD residential treatment beds. The funding will support renovation, capital and start-up costs related to new or expanded treatment beds and medically supervised withdrawal beds. The funding can also be used to support workforce, training needs, equipment, and other costs of establishing bed capacity. It comes from funds remaining available for opioid response activities which were also used for prior rounds of awards to expand SUD treatment beds across Maine.

Today, DHHS published both a Request for Proposals (RFP) to establish and operate the Kennebec County SUD Receiving Center and a Request for Applications (RFA) for the Washington County residential treatment beds.

Recently, the Mills Administration also awarded $6 million to increase capacity of residential SUD treatment in Maine. As a result of these awards, more than 100 new residential treatment beds have been or will be created. This investment builds on the Administration's improvements to MaineCare payments for SUD residential treatment providers, including a 70 percent average rate increase between 2020 and 2021.

Under Governor Mills, Maine has improved SUD treatment capacity by:

  • Providing health insurance coverage through MaineCare expansion to over 100,000 Mainers with over 22,000 individuals receiving treatment for substance use
  • Expanding treatment for substance use and opioid use disorder with increases in Medication for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD), and increasing Opioid Treatment Program (OTP) and waivered providers across the state;
  • Recruiting and training of over 1,000 recovery coaches;
  • Increasing the number of Recovery Community Centers and Certified Recovery Residences across the state, with over 75 percent of Certified Recovery Residences supporting residents on medication for substance use disorders;
  • Establishing the OPTIONS Program statewide, including recently providing funding to double the number of OPTIONS liaisons statewide to work alongside local emergency services and law enforcement to provide therapeutic interventions, outreach, referrals and post-overdose follow-up for individuals;
  • Developing Maine's statewide naloxone distribution program and increasing distribution of Naloxone by over 100 percent from 2020 to 2022. Since 2019, the Mills Administration has distributed more than 324,755 doses of naloxone, which has been used to reverse over 7,998 overdoses that may have otherwise been fatal;
  • Seizing 4.7 pounds of fentanyl by Maine Drug Enforcement agents from January to June of this year, not counting seizures led by local law enforcement agencies
  • Expanding Maine's "Good Samaritan" law, first signed by Governor Mills in 2019, which encourages individuals to call for life-saving assistance when someone at their location is experiencing an overdose;
  • Providing funding for medically monitored withdrawal beds through OBH to support room and board and other costs not covered by MaineCare;
  • Vastly expanding team-based treatment of opioid use disorder for eligible MaineCare members and uninsured individuals through Opioid Health Homes.

In addition, the Mills Administration in 2023 updated its Opioid Response Strategic Plan. View the plan here (PDF).