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Opioid Treatment Is Used Vastly More in States That Expanded Medicaid

The New York Times (8/21/19)

States that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act have seen a much bigger increase in prescriptions for a medication that treats opioid addiction than states that chose not to expand the program, a new study has found.

The study, by researchers at the Urban Institute, a nonprofit research group, adds to the evidence that the 2010 health care law is playing a significant role in addressing the opioid epidemic. The researchers found that the number of Medicaid-covered prescriptions for buprenorphine, which eases cravings and withdrawal symptoms, increased almost fivefold nationally — to 6.2 million from 1.3 million — between 2011 and 2018.

“Expanding Medicaid is probably the most important thing states can do to increase treatment rates,” said Lisa Clemans-Cope, the study’s lead author. “But even some states that did expand Medicaid look like they are falling short in meeting the treatment needs.”

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