Press Statement

Date: July 17, 2020
Contact: Bobbie Burgess, bburgess@new-futures.org 

NEW REPORT SHOWS COST OF COVID-19 TO SUBSTANCE USE TREATMENT 
AND RECOVERY PROVIDERS

CONCORD, N.H. – In the midst of the ongoing addiction crisis, New Hampshire’s substance use disorder (SUD) providers have suffered significant financial losses since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report released this week by New Futures, the Granite State’s leading health policy and advocacy organization.  The report, which includes the results of a survey of New Hampshire’s substance use treatment and recovery organizations, shows that more than 80 percent of responding providers have experienced significant financial hardship due to COVID-19, with average billing losses of more than $21,000 since January.  

“While significant progress has been made against the addiction epidemic, New Hampshire’s continued success depends on the long-term stability and financial solvency of substance use disorder treatment providers.”  said Michele Merritt, New Futures’ President and CEO.  “This report highlights the devastating impact of COVID-19 on critical providers, who are hemorrhaging funds at a time when their services are so desperately needed.”

The report, developed in conjunction with Helms & Company, a healthcare consulting firm, surveyed 23 substance use treatment and recovery providers across the state.  The survey included a range of questions regarding organizational budgets, billing revenues, reliance on donations, staffing structure, telehealth capability, COVID-19-related expenses, and access to financial relief programs, among others.

Among other findings, the report reveals that: 

  • 83.3% of responding small and large group treatment providers experienced an overall decrease in insurance revenue between January-April 2020.  On average, each responding small and large group treatment provider lost $21,452 during that time, with average monthly losses of $7,150
  • 73.9% of organizations surveyed reported investing in new technology to see clients safely during COVID-19, at an average cost of $6,324; 
  • 47.8% of respondents reported canceling income-generating events, including fundraisers, with average lost revenue of $40,863 per organization.
  • 39.1% of responding organizations reported spending on personal protection equipment (PPE), at an average cost of $3,155.

Extrapolated to include the qualifying organizations listed on the N.H. Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services’ Treatment Locator, these numbers indicate COVID-19 could lead to more than $6 million in billing losses by October, among other costs, to treatment and recovery providers by October, the report concludes.  

As an example, Families in Transition-New Horizons (FITNH), one of Manchester’s leading substance use treatment providers, experienced an 11 percent reduction in revenue, and “the organization’s programs as a whole felt the ripple effect of our community’s economic fragility,” said Stephanie Allain Savard, FITNH’s Chief Operating Officer

“Just like all New Hampshire treatment providers, FITNH has worked hard to be fluid in response to COVID-19 to ensure continuity and support for clients.  Despite pivoting as efficiently as possible to provide quality services via tele-health, the initial impact of COVID-19 on treatment delivery had significant financial impact,” Savard said. “Any reduction in revenue to an already delicately funded treatment and social service system creates a precarious situation.”

To make providers whole and ensure their stability into the future, New Futures is calling for the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery (GOFERR) to allocate $15-$18 million to treatment and recovery organizations across the state.

“For the future of the Granite State, we simply cannot allow treatment and recovery capacity to erode,” said Merritt. “Some of these losses will take years to recover and we must start rebuilding now.”

The full report and graphics can be found at: https://new-futures.org/news/blog/cost-covid-19-substance-use-treatment-and-recovery-providers

About New Futures

New Futures is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that advocates, educates and collaborates to improve the health and wellness of all New Hampshire residents. Learn more at new-futures.org

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