Opinion by Sue Runyan of Sequim: Part 1
I am a New Activist of sorts. I worked. I retired. I expected to read books and walk and grow old. But there is still work to be done. I love my Country, warts and all.
“No need. Only Greed.” The Peoples $$$
Proposed MAT Facility for Sequim:
In mid 2019, the citizens of Sequim were told there was to be a Medication Assisted Treatment facility (MAT) in Sequim, next to COSTCO, on almost 20 acres recently purchased by Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe of Indians. “Fait Accompli.” This announcement also included that $7.2 million was in the State budget for the building of the facility. Coming as a huge surprise, a non-political group of citizens, calling themselves SOS, saveoursequim.org, quickly came together in opposition to 1. the placement of this regional facility and 2. that the elected officials did this to a sleepy, rural retirement town without public input. In the uncovering of facts, it was disclosed that there is an obscene difference in medicaid reimbursement rates given to an Indian tribe compared to a non- Indian group. Our quest for knowledge led us to write the following letter to the Sequim City Council. (Sidebar – The backroom quid-pro-quo, unwritten promises and wink-winks did not happen under the watchful eye of the current Sequim City Council.)
To: All Sequim City Council June 15, 2020
We wondered why the discrepancy was so disparate between MAT needs as reported by our PDN and the Save Our Sequim group. We read. In our process of discovery, we found 2 items that explain this disparity. Item 1 is the 2016 Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration Map for addressing service gaps for opioid treatment at the height of the opioid problem in our Country. Look, this is a clear statement by the State of Washington that there is no need for a MAT facility in Sequim, (marked in lime-green below). We are in a “Non-Optimal Area”. This designation means “No need for service or investment in a facility.”
Why would anyone build a MAT Facility where there is no need? Why would this happen? We believe that milking Medicaid, funded by federal taxes, is that reason and not for the benefit of the citizens of Sequim or Clallam County.
Map of the area to be served shown by red rectangle in a “Non-Optimal Area”:
Why would we say that? The Salish Behavioral Health Organization, Executive Board (SBHO EB) minutes of June 2018 specify “a contract was finalized with BayMark” Health Services which operates Opioid Treatment Programs nationwide. The minutes state that “BayMark is in negotiations with property owners in Clallam and Kitsap counties” for a place for their treatment centers in Port Angeles and Bremerton, respectively. (Note – BayMark was not interested in a clinic in Sequim. They can read the map.) The SBHO Executive Board meeting (August 17, 2018) specify that “soon after achieving contract signature (from BayMark) the SBHO was informed that the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe also planned to open their own OTP (Opioid Treatment Program) which would be open to the public. Tribes in Washington State are allowed to charge the current “encounter rate” for each service rendered to a patient, with the current encounter rate being $427. For Substance Use Disorder services, these funds are paid with 100% Federal funds regardless of the ethnicity of the individual being served (emphasis is mine). BayMark was very concerned about this development as they cannot compete with a Tribal program due to the vast inequities in payment (we will be paying BayMark approximately $20 per day).” In the SBHO Executive Board minutes of October 19, 2018, “SHBO agreed to pay BayMark a guaranteed monthly rate until BayMark reached the ongoing patient population listed in the contract for each site.” The SBHO seems to have turned their backs on a proven and inexpensive treatment process in favor of the much more expensive Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe proposal.
Item 2 is an email response from Mark Ozias, to an SOS facebook post on July 23, 2019. A part of his response states “Our region is in great need of additional MAT resource, and the facility and program the Tribe is considering has the chance to really make a difference.
Because of the way that reimbursement rates work, the Tribe is really the only partner who could make this type of program “pencil out” and I am grateful they have taken the risk to do so.” Mark Ozias has clearly stated that this MAT, as a business, can only succeed because of the absurd Medicaid reimbursement paid only to Indians. There is not enough need in this “non-optimal” area to justify a MAT, on its own, except by pretending there is a need.
Pricing of service: Tribe $427.00 vs BayMart $20.00
We urge you to request a Federal Investigation because Federal Medicaid reimbursements to the Tribe are predicated on the fraudulent premise of need. It is a demonstrably false premise. No need; just greed!
In our opinion.
T/S Runyan, Sequim, firstname.lastname@example.org 2020
Whatcom County Republican Party endorsements: