With deaths from opioid overdose rising steeply in recent years, and a large segment of the population reporting knowing someone who has been addicted to prescription painkillers, the nation’s opioid epidemic affects people across all incomes, ages, and regions. These resources provide analysis and insight into the epidemic, who it affects, and how it’s being addressed by federal and state officials and the broader health care system.
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Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: November 2015

As the problem of prescription painkiller abuse has captured greater attention from policymakers and the media, the November Kaiser Health Tracking Poll explores the public’s connection to and knowledge of the issue, as well as their views of how to address it. A surprising 56 percent of the public say they have some personal connection to the issue – either because they say they know someone who has taken a prescription painkiller that wasn’t prescribed to them, know someone who has been addicted, or know someone who has died from a prescription painkiller overdose. While views of the health care law have been narrowly divided for much of the year, this month more say they have an unfavorable view of the law than a favorable one. The poll also includes views of the uninsured during the third open enrollment period under the health care law.

Why Painkiller Addiction and Abuse Are Rising Health-Care Priorities

In his latest column for The Wall Street Journal’s Think Tank, Drew Altman uses new polling to explore why painkiller abuse and addiction is rising as a health issue among state and federal policymakers. All previous columns by Drew Altman are available online.

Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: April 2016

The April Kaiser Health Tracking Poll examines the role of health care issues in the presidential election. Health care is one of the top four issues mentioned by voters when asked which issues they most want to hear candidates discuss in the campaign, but half as many cite health care as mention the economy and jobs. It also examines the public’s experiences with prescription painkiller abuse and access to mental health care, as well as their views on efforts to combat painkiller and heroin addiction. It also asks about confidence in the safety of the drinking water supply in the wake of the lead contamination crisis in Flint, Mich., and their views of the government’s performance.

Understanding Who Opioid Users Are Underscores Challenges

The 21st Century Cures Act provided a billion dollars in new funding for opioid prevention and treatment. In this Wall Street Journal Think Tank column, Drew Altman looks at the challenges based on a new Kaiser-Washington Post survey of long term opioid users.

State Options for Medicaid Coverage of Inpatient Behavioral Health Services

This report provides data to understand current patterns of Medicaid enrollees’ use of inpatient and outpatient substance use disorder and mental health treatment services; explains the options for states to access federal Medicaid funds for enrollees receiving IMD services; analyzes current Section 1115 waiver activity; and draws on interviews with policymakers using IMD waivers in Vermont, Virginia, and San Diego County to examine successes and challenges

Opioid Use Disorder among Medicaid Enrollees: Snapshot of the Epidemic and State Responses

As the largest payer of substance use disorder services in the United States, Medicaid plays a central role in state efforts to address the opioid epidemic. In addition to increasing access to addiction treatment services through the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), states are expanding Medicaid addiction treatment services, increasing provider reimbursements, restricting opioid prescribing, and implementing delivery system reforms to improve the quality of treatment services. While many states have been tracking progress and challenges in these efforts, uniqueness of state systems can make it difficult to compare or benchmark across states. This brief draws on analyses provided by the Medicaid Outcomes Distributed Research Network (MODRN), a collaborative effort to analyze data across multiple states to facilitate learning among Medicaid agencies. It profiles the opioid epidemic among the Medicaid population in six states participating in MODRN that also have been hard hit by the opioid epidemic: Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. The brief also draws on interviews with officials from the state Medicaid and other health agencies.

Medicaid’s Most Costly Outpatient Drugs

Using Medicaid State Drug Utilization Data, this brief presents the 50 most costly drugs before rebates used by the Medicaid program over the January 2014 through June 2015 period. It then examines reasons why these drugs are so costly; explores case studies on opioids, hepatitis C drugs, and the drug Abilify; and considers policy implications.

Most Americans Say Federal and State Governments Are Not Doing Enough to Combat Prescription Painkiller and Heroin Abuse; Large Majorities Believe Wide Range of Strategies Would be Effective

 As the White House and Congress continue to debate new funding and other actions to address the nation’s opioid epidemic, the latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds that most Americans believe the federal government is not doing enough to combat the recent increases in the number of people who are…

The Role of Community Health Centers in Addressing the Opioid Epidemic

This brief presents the results of the 2018 health center survey questions focused on activities releated to addressing the opioid epidemic. It includes information on opioid use disorder among health center patients, on-site provision of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and naloxone, provider training on providing MAT, treatment capacity issues, and safe prescribing practices. It also compares activities in Medicaid expansion and non-expansion states and discusses the critical role Medicaid plays in health centers’ ability to address the epidemic.