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Reversing the Opioid Epidemic: Medicaid and Medications

March 12, 2024

A new Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) report presents information on the availability and access to medications for treating ongoing alcohol use disorder (AUD) and opioid use disorder (OUD) and reversing opioid overdose within state Medicaid plans. Medicaid Coverage of Medications to Reverse Opioid Overdose and Treat Alcohol and Opioid Use Disorders (PDF) provides an update on the current state of coverage and availability of these treatments to Medicaid beneficiaries. Westat staff contributing to this report are Jennifer Caputo, PhD, Shoma Ghose, PhD, Cindy Gruman, PhD, Mustafa Karakus, PhD, Nathan Lowe, Justin Metcalfe, PhD, Joshua Noda, MPP, Beth Rabinovich, PhD, Elian Rosenfeld, PhD, and Melissa Wilson, MPS.

Medication is an essential component in evidence-based treatment of substance use disorders (SUDs). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved medications for treating AUD, OUD, and reversing opioid overdose; Medicaid covers these medications. However, a significant gap remains between Medicaid beneficiaries needing SUD treatment and those receiving it. Comprehensive coverage and accessibility of these medications is critical so that people get the treatments they require.

“State Medicaid agencies are making strides in covering medications to treat OUD and AUD, but the work is not done,” notes Karakus, the project director for the study. “We must continue to close the gaps to ensure life-saving medications are accessible for all who need SUD treatment.”


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