In Medicaid Expansion States, More People Had Access to Opioid Overdose Reversal Drug

By Richard G. Frank and Carrie Fry | May 17, 2019

Federal, state, and local governments have taken steps to reduce deaths from opioid overdoses by expanding access to naloxone, a short-acting drug that reverses the effects of opioid-related overdoses. State Medicaid programs have played a key role by making naloxone affordable for low-income people struggling with opioid use disorder.

This role has grown since 2014 as 36 states and the District of Columbia have expanded eligibility for Medicaid to cover low-income, childless adults. In the journal Addiction, Commonwealth Fund–supported researchers examined the effects of this expansion by tracking the increase in the amount of dispensed naloxone covered by Medicaid from 2009–16 and comparing changes in dispensed naloxone in states that did and did not expand Medicaid.

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