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J Subst Abuse Treat. 2009 Jun;36(4):355-65. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2008.06.009. Epub 2009 Mar 31.

Influence of ownership on access in outpatient substance abuse treatment.

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Department of Health Management and Policy, The University of Michigan, 109 S Observatory, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2029, USA.


Marked changes in ownership and control in substance abuse treatment delivery have garnered the attention of providers and policymakers alike. The proliferation of private for-profit providers and the shift to a delivery system that may be more explicitly influenced by financial incentives are of particular concern for this vulnerable population. This work empirically addresses how treatment unit ownership affected access and retention between 1995 and 2005 in the United States. Regressions show statistically significant associations between unit ownership and both restricted treatment access and shortening of treatment duration for financial reasons. In comparison to private nonprofit and public units, private for-profit units were less likely to provide initial treatment access and reported shortened treatment for a greater percentage of clients unable to pay. Other organization characteristics, such as methadone-maintenance programs and managed care participation, also were associated with limiting treatment accessibility. While this work does not determine the underlying motivation behind access limitations, continued shifts in ownership structure should heighten the attention of policymakers.

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