Study: Medicaid Enrollees Lack Access To Addiction Treatment

Study: Medicaid Enrollees Lack Access To Addiction Treatment

6:25pm Nov 19, 2019
(AP/Patrick Sison)

Medicaid enrollees struggling with opioid addiction are having a hard time accessing certain treatment options. That’s one takeaway from a study out Tuesday from Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill. 

The study found there have been impressive gains in the number of young Medicaid enrollees getting medication-assisted treatment. But it’s not keeping up with the number of people who actually need it.  The overall rate of treatment dropped from 2014 - 2017 from 45 percent to 41 percent. 

The research focused on North Carolina Medicaid enrollees under age 65. Just 20% of uninsured people with opioid use disorder received outpatient treatment last year. 

Study co-author Aaron McKethan says medications like naltrexone are a crucial part of effective addiction therapy. But he says it’s hard to get people to stick with it. 

“Sometimes it's transportation that keeps you from staying on therapy. Sometimes it's their social challenges, that people prioritize food and other needs before they worry about their prescriptions for these medicines,” he says. “But we also know that relapse is a recognized part of the recovery process.”

McKethan says more should be done to address non-medical barriers to treatment, including housing and transportation.

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