March 19, 2018: Opioid Use & Medicaid

Weekly updates on the latest state-level health care news from Heather Howard, program director of State Health and Value Strategies.

Following the unveiling of President Trump’s initiative to address the opioid crisis, a new State Health and Value Strategies publication is available. Medicaid: The Linchpin in State Strategies to Prevent and Address Opioid Use Disorders by Manatt Health that illustrates the important role of Medicaid in addressing the crisis.

In 2016 the nation’s opioid epidemic claimed more than 42,000 lives, and more than 2 million people in the United States have an opioid use disorder (OUD)—with nearly another 10 million at risk due to misuse of these drugs. The federal government has responded to the crisis by declaring a public health emergency and making over $500 million of OUD-targeted funding available to states last year. While critical, these dollars (and the programs they fund) pale in comparison to the scale and scope of resources the Medicaid program brings to states to combat the opioid epidemic and other substance use disorders.

Today, Medicaid covers more than 1 in 3 people with an OUD, and program spending for people with an OUD in 2013 (before Medicaid expansion in many states) was more than $9 billion. In this new issue brief, data from three states—New Hampshire, Ohio and West Virginia—highlight Medicaid’s role as the linchpin in states’ efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. For an overview of the role of Medicaid in supporting state efforts to address the epidemic, View from the States: the Role of Medicaid in Preventing and Addressing Opioid Use Disorders is a short read of the takeaways from the longer brief.