Turning Point is eager to complete its health care campus, complete with Outpatient Mental Health, Urgent and Primary care clinics. It’s really intended to be a demonstration program.
Although methadone treatment is cheap, helps neighborhoods, families and the taxpayer, the potential benefits are far greater still. Suffering from all the maladies expected from a lifetime of self-destructive behavior, these patients require a great deal of medical care–from oncologists, infectious disease specialists, etc., and our average patient has three or four prescription medications in addition to methadone. Yet such patients are notoriously bad at keeping necessary medical appointments, and taking prescribed medicines. They routinely end up in the ER, sometimes costing hundreds of thousands of dollars (or MORE) per visit! Such lack of attention to their medical needs cost Medicaid perhaps $10MM to $20MM per year, just for Turning Point’s 3,000 patients alone!
But policy makers can do much better than this. What if Turning Point, and other methadone clinics, took over patient care? Let’s call that “Directed Care,” or, perhaps better, “Street Smart Medicine.” If an addict wants to be in a methadone program, then that program will direct him or her to onsite primary care physicians, mental health professionals, arrange referrals to other specialists, AND dispense all prescription medication at the same time as the patient receives his or her methadone each day. This truly is Street Smart, and Tax Payer Smart, Medicine.