(Cleveland) - U.S. Representative Marcia Fudge has introduced H.R. 5136, The Breaking Addiction Act of 2014. The legislation is co-sponsored by Congressman Tim Ryan of Youngstown.

Fudge said the measure establishes a five-year demonstration project to expand cost-effective, community-based treatment options to address the heroin/opiate epidemic.

It partially waives what is known as the Institution for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion. The 1965 law that created Medicaid excludes states from receiving federal reimbursement for services provided in an IMD with more than 16 patient beds.

However, Fudge said, Congress did not foresee nearly 50 years ago that this exclusion would impede communities’ ability to respond to the rapid escalation of heroin addiction and abuse of opiate-based prescription painkillers.

“Fatal drug overdoses now exceed motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of accidental death in Ohio. Heroin alone claims more lives in Cuyahoga County than homicides. This public health threat affects communities in all regions of the country - impacting urban, suburban and rural areas alike,” Congresswoman Fudge told Newsradio WTAM 1100.

The legislation also directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to prepare a report at the conclusion of the project to evaluate the impact of permitting federal reimbursement for addiction treatment on a full range of health care items and services, including costs, access to care, re-admissions and emergency care.

“By removing an outmoded barrier to funding for substance abuse treatment, we can go a long way toward reversing the heroin epidemic and saving lives. I am also confident that data collected from this demonstration project will show community treatment will lower the bill to taxpayers for overall health care and decrease law enforcement costs associated with opiate addiction,” stated Congresswoman Fudge.

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(Photo by Ken Robinson/WTAM)