States Show the Way on the Opioid Epidemic

The successes on these fronts can be attributed in part to efforts to boost rates of insured individuals — people who are dependent on drugs often struggle financially and cannot afford treatment without health coverage. Massachusetts and Vermont, where overdose deaths are falling, have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and have helped people sign up for private insurance. In 2016, just 2.5 percent of people in Massachusetts were uninsured and only 3.7 percent lacked health insurance in Vermont, compared with 8.6 percent for the country as a whole.

It’s no surprise, then, that most people with opioid use disorder in those states — more than 60 percent of them — received medication-assisted treatment, according to a Blue Cross Blue Shield Association report. By comparison, less than 30 percent of people with the disorder received treatment in Florida, Georgia and Texas, which have not expanded Medicaid and where the uninsured rate was more than 12 percent.

This disparity highlights how important it is for state governments to take advantage of the health care act, and how wrong it is that the Trump administration and Republican lawmakers have been doing everything they can to weaken that law and reduce the number of people who benefit from it. One of Mr. Trump’s biggest supporters, Gov. Paul LePage of Maine, for example, has refused to expand Medicaid even though a sizable majority of his state voted to do so last year.

Could expanding healthcare to all Americans be the solution for the opioid addiction crisis?


Author: Angela Grant

Angela Grant is a medical doctor. For 22 years, she practiced emergency medicine and internal medicine. She studied for one year at Harvard T. H Chan School Of Public Health. She writes about culture, race, and health.

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