Issue Brief | Mar 16, 2018

Medicaid: The Linchpin in State Strategies to Prevent and Address Opioid Use Disorders

April Grady, Patricia Boozang, Deborah Bachrach, Adam Striar, and Kevin McAvey, Manatt Health

The nation’s opioid epidemic claimed more than 42,000 lives in 2016, and more than 2 million people in the United States have an opioid use disorder (OUD). Yet, only 1 in 5 people suffering from an OUD receive treatment. 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 (SUD). Indeed, 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 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.

The State Health Policy Highlights, View from the States: the Role of Medicaid in Preventing and Addressing Opioid Use Disorders provides an overview on the role of Medicaid in supporting state efforts to address the opioid epidemic.