Opioid users on Medicaid who have an incidence of inappropriate prescribing practices were more likely to die of an overdose, Jayani Jayawardhana, a health economist, and her colleagues at the University of Georgia found.
Patients using the fee-for-service plan were more likely to die than patients in the managed care plan. Patients on managed-care Medicaid had much lower numbers of inappropriate opioid prescriptions.
The researchers also discovered where patients lived had an effect. Rural counties in Georgia experienced a 23.5 percent reduction in the overdose death rate from all drugs due between 1999 to 2015 compared with nonrural counties.
The study’s results could help state and federal policymakers mitigate the opioid epidemic, Jayawardhana said.
“Sometimes, when you put policies in place, they don’t do exactly what you meant them to do,” Jayawardhana said. “I am interested in finding out what the true impacts of these policies are.”
She expects to investigate this in future work. She is currently studying the impact of medical marijuana legalization across various states on the opioid epidemic.
Jayawardhana and her colleagues have been attempting to determine what makes someone high risk for an overdose.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health supports some of the research.