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Opioid addiction diagnosis and treatment climbs with Medicaid expansion

More low-income people addicted to opioids are getting diagnosed and treated with effective medication as a result of the Affordable Care Act, a new study suggests

Under the ACA, also known as Obamacare, some U.S. states expanded coverage through Medicaid – the joint federal and state insurance program for the poor – starting in 2014. While previous studies have linked Medicaid expansion to gains in the number of people treated for substance use disorders, the current study offers fresh evidence that the law helped to improve access to buprenorphine, a drug for treating opioid addiction.

“When people get signed up for Medicaid, it increases the likelihood that they will seek all types of medical care including more visits to primary care doctors, and even when patients are not explicitly seeking care for opioid addiction, the greater contact with the health system creates more opportunities for screening and diagnosis,” said lead study author Brendan Saloner of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

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