The Trump administration approved a waiver Tuesday to allow West Virginia to offer treatment for newborns suffering from opioid withdrawal.
West Virginia is the first state to get a waiver from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to treat Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome through Medicaid. The state has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic, which federal data show killed more than 42,000 Americans in 2016. In 2016, 884 West Virginia residents died from an opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“No state has felt the effects of this epidemic like West Virginia has, and I am so happy that our state is now able to provide [Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome] services through the Medicaid program,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.
Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome refers to when a newborn’s exposure to opioids is abruptly cut off at birth.
“Infants with NAS require around-the-clock care during the first weeks of their lives to combat symptoms of withdrawal such as tremors, vomiting, seizures, excessive crying, and sensitivity to stimuli (e.g., loud noises, bright lights, bright colors) and to wean the infant from his or her dependence on opiates using small doses of morphine or methadone,” West Virginia’s health department said in a statement.
One treatment center in Huntington offers care for the syndrome.
Capito and Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., released a report in October from a federal watchdog that called on federal action to address the syndrome. The lawmakers have introduced legislation in their respective chambers to help support families who have newborns suffering from opioid addiction.
The CMS waiver comes as President Trump’s budget called for adding $5 billion over five years to fight the opioid epidemic. Congress is also expected to vote next month on a two-year budget deal that includes $6 billion to fight opioid abuse.