Study finds access to opioid treatment limited

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One in five people experiencing opioid-use disorder (OUD) received addiction treatment in 2018, according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) study.

Health centers serve low-income people who may otherwise have difficulty accessing affordable health care, and residents are disproportionately uninsured, enrolled in Medicaid, or earn less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

From 2018 to 2019, 71 percent of health centers experienced an increase in the number of patients with OUD. The increase was in both those people with prescription OUD and nonprescription OUD. This growth is attributed to an improved capacity at health centers to provide OUD services to more patients, improved screening practices to identify patients experiencing OUD, and new patients seeking treatment.

Many health centers provide medication-assisted treatment (MAT). This includes treatment with counseling and one of three medications: methadone, naltrexone, and buprenorphine.

A total of 64 percent of health centers provided MAT medications in 2019, an increase of 48 percent, and 87 percent provide counseling. Centers located in Medicaid-expansion states were more likely to provide onsite MAT services.

Of the centers that offer MAT services, 35 percent offered only one MAT drug, 4 percent offered all three, and 60 percent offered two MAT drugs.

Buprenorphine is the most widely available drug, offered by 89 percent of health centers; 69 percent offered naltrexone, and 7 percent offered methadone.

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