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The claim: After Obamacare encouraged states to expand Medicaid to include everyone at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level (around $16,750 a year for an individual), more people obtained access to opioid painkillers, since they now could get to doctors to prescribe the drugs and had a health plan to pay for the opioids. And that may have led them to addiction or, at the very least, made opioids more available to misuse and sell in illicit markets.

But a new study published in JAMA Network Open put this claim through empirical tests — and the claim failed. In fact, the study found that the Medicaid expansion may help combat the opioid crisis by expanding or maintaining access to addiction treatment.

In the study, Brendan Saloner and other researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration looked at opioid painkiller prescription filling trends in three states that expanded Medicaid versus two that didn’t. The researchers also evaluated prescription fill rates for buprenorphine, a medication that’s considered, along with methadone, a gold standard treatment for opioid addiction — to see if Medicaid improved access to addiction treatment. …

…continue reading ‘Republicans claimed Medicaid made the opioid epidemic worse. A new study proves them wrong.’

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