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Medicaid Responds To The Opioid Epidemic: Regulating Prescribing And Finding Ways To Expand Treatment Access
Health Affairs Blog

Medicaid programs are at the center of the opioid epidemic. Nearly 12 percent of adults covered by Medicaid have a substance use disorder, including opioid use disorder. Available data suggest that Medicaid beneficiaries are prescribed painkillers at higher rates than non-Medicaid patients and have a higher risk of overdose, from both prescription opioids and illegal versions including heroin and fentanyl. In addition to the human toll, abuse of opioids has significant financial effects. In 2010, Arizona Medicaid paid for more than half of all opioid-related emergency department admissions, and in 2012, 81 percent of the $1.5 billion in nationwide hospital costs related to neonatal abstinence syndrome fell to Medicaid.

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