Regular Article

The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 324-334

First online:

Medicaid Coverage and Access to Publicly Funded Opiate Treatment

  • Dennis D. DeckAffiliated withRMC Research Corporation Email author 
  • , Wyndy L. Wiitala
  • , Katherine E. Laws

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This observational study examines changes in access to methadone maintenance treatment following Oregon's decision to remove substance abuse treatment from the Medicaid benefit for an expansion population. Access was compared before and after the benefit change for two cohorts of adults addicted to opiates presenting for publicly funded treatment. Propensity score analysis helped model some selective disenrollment from Medicaid that occurred after the benefit change. Logistic regression was used to compare access to methadone by cohort controlling for client characteristics. Opiate users presenting for publicly funded treatment after the change were less than half as likely (OR = 0.40) to be placed in an opiate treatment program compared to the prior year. Further analysis revealed that those with no recent treatment history were less likely to present for treatment after the benefit change. These results have implications for states considering Medicaid cuts, especially if the anticipated increases in illegal activity, emergency room utilization, unemployment, and mortality can be demonstrated.