Opioid Epidemic: Crisis to Care in Medicaid

Jennifer E. Moore, PhD, RN, FAAN

Since 2000, the significant increase in the misuse of opioids, including prescription (e.g., oxycodone) and illicit (e.g., heroin) opioids, has led to the declaration of an “opioid ep­idemic” by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  Notably, this trend is increasingly prevalent among women misusing opioids during pregnancy, resulting in increased rates of infants born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) and neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) stays.  In recent years, a number of clinical guidelines and policy efforts have targeted efforts to curb opioid misuse, including approaches to expand access to Medication Assistance Therapy (MAT) and devel­op targeted MAT programs for pregnant women and postpartum mothers. While these efforts are beginning to address this issue, additional clinical and policy based solutions are needed to prevent and treat the growing opioid epidemic in the U.S.

On June 22nd, the Institute for Medicaid Innovation released two issue briefs highlighting the opioid epidemic in Medicaid with a special focus on pregnant women and babies.  In the briefs, we highlight innovative and promising best practices and offer suggested priorities for clinical practice, research. and policy.  Resources from the summit and the issue briefs can be accessed here.