Detox clinic at risk of closing doors due to funding shortage

EVERETT, Wash. -- A detox clinic that takes in addicts who otherwise could not afford treatment is at risk of shutting its doors.

The addicts fortunate enough to get a room at Evergreen Manor are often desperate by the time they're admitted. The clinic treated about 1,000 of them last year.

"These are your children, these are your next door neighbors, these are people you go see working in the stores," said Detox supervisor Scott Johnson.

Now, the caregivers dedicated to helping these patients face a desperate situation.

"If you don't have the funding then you can't provide the service," Johnson said.

All Johnson wants is time with his patients. But federal Medicaid reimbursements got slashed on Jan. 1, which means the only publicly-funded detox clinic in Snohomish County could shut down in the next couple months.

"To be in a position to help and not be able to help as many people that are requesting our help, it's heart-wrenching," he said.

Roxanne Rosario is one who says the clinic has helped her in many ways. She's a recovering alcoholic who now works with addicts at the clinic, and credits Evergreen Manor for her sobriety.

"I really don't know what kind of path I'd be living right now if it wasn't for them intervening and helping," she said.

Clinic managers say their budget crisis is an unintended consequence of the Affordable Care Act. The federal government is now responsible for uninsured detox patients, and the feds reimburse at a much lower rate than the state, leaving Evergreen Manor $15,000 to $20,000 short every month.

The clinic is now anxiously waiting to see if the state legislature -- still grappling with what many consider bigger issues -- orders a better reimbursement rate.

"To tell someone we're not here to help them that would be... it just would be sad," Rosario said.

State Representative Ruth Kagi is leading the charge to secure at least $250,000 in state money to plug the gap. Budget negotiations, however, are tense right now and she says it's hard to predict if it will happen before the session ends Thursday.