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The looming expansion and transformation of public substance abuse treatment under the affordable care act

Public substance abuse treatment services have largely operated as an independent part of the overall health care system, with unique methods of administration, funding, and service delivery.

The Affordable Care Act of 2010 and other recent health care reforms, coupled with declines in state general revenue spending, will change this. Overall funding for these substance abuse services should increase, and they should be better integrated into the mainstream of general health care.

Reform provisions are also likely to expand the variety of substance abuse treatment providers and shift services away from residential and stand-alone programs toward outpatient programs and more integrated programs or care systems. As a result, patients should have better access to care that is more medically based and person-centered.

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