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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Report Details Medicaid Strategies for Preventing Opioid Abuse

November 6, 2014 | Addictions | Comments
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The National Association of Medicaid Directors (NAMD) has released a report on “State Medicaid Interventions for Preventing Prescription Drug Abuse and Overdose.” The report, which summarizes current practices and emerging opportunities for state Medicaid agencies to more effectively prevent prescription opioid abuse and overdose, offers helpful recommendations for states and providers.

Prescription drug overdoses have recently surpassed traffic accidents as the leading cause of death from unintentional injury in the U.S. For every one fatal opioid prescription drug overdose, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimates that there are nine hospital admissions and 161 individuals who are addicted to or misusing prescription painkillers. The problem is particularly important for Medicaid because Medicaid beneficiaries are significantly more likely to receive opioid painkiller prescriptions (a major risk factor for abuse) and suffer six times the rate of painkiller overdose compared to the general population. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 45 percent of people who die from a prescription drug overdose are Medicaid enrollees.

Medicaid agencies have an important role in working with providers and other state agencies to address the opioid abuse epidemic. The NAMD report offers recommendations across several dimensions:

  • Medicaid infrastructure
  • Proactive prevention measures
  • Active monitoring and surveillance
  • Efficient and effective treatment of addiction
  • Cross-agency collaboration efforts
  • Collaboration with Medicaid agencies from other states

Specific recommendations include: promoting coordinated care, early detection, and early intervention of potential drug abuse; optimizing timely access to substance use services, including medication assisted therapy; promoting quality, outcomes-driven substance use services, and more.

Click here to read the full report and share with your state officials.