Medicaid: States’ Powerful Tool to Combat the Opioid Crisis

Prepared for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s State Health Reform Assistance Network

The United States is in the throes of a rapidly worsening opioid epidemic. The crisis is far-reaching. As of 2014, 1.9 million Americans had an opioid use disorder involving prescription medication, and an additional 19.6 million Americans had a substance use disorder (SUD) outside of addiction to prescription opioids.

With Medicaid serving as the largest source of coverage for behavioral health services, including those related to SUDs, the role that it can play in addressing the epidemic is powerful. Notably, 1.2 million individuals with SUDs have gained access to coverage in the 31 states that have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

In a new issue brief for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s State Health Reform Assistance Network, Manatt Health reviews Medicaid strategies to combat the opioid epidemic. The issue brief underscores the vital part Medicaid expansion plays in this effort, with 1.1 million adults with SUDs currently residing in non-expansion states.

The latest issue brief is part of a continuing series examining the fiscal implications of Medicaid expansion. Click here to download the full brief.

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