Auditor's report shows opioids impact on Medicaid


Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A state auditor's report looking at the impact of the opioid crisis on state Medicaid spending shows the number of Ohio Medicaid recipients with an opioid-related diagnosis quadrupling from 2010 to 2016.

The report recently released by Ohio Auditor Dave Yost shows the number of Ohio Medicaid recipients with an opioid-related diagnosis climbed 430 percent between 2010 and 2016. The report also shows the state's cost for treating opioid addiction through medication-assisted therapies, which has become more accepted and deemed effective in helping prevent relapses, jumped from more than $13 million in 2010 to $110 million by 2016, according to Yost.

The trend line is a concern for Medicaid's financial health, said Yost. He says money could become scarce for other needs of the 3 million poor and disabled people who rely on the Medicaid program statewide.

"Medicaid is the safety net for our most-needy Ohioans," Yost said in a statement. "That safety net is being stretched thin by the thousands of people who have lost their jobs, their health insurance and are in desperate need of care. As much as we've done in Ohio to curb this epidemic, more needs to be done."

The number of persons on Medicaid receiving medication-assisted treatment for addiction jumped from about 6,500 in 2010 to nearly 48,000 in 2016, according to the report. It also shows a higher percentage of Medicaid recipients (a 45 percent increase) received medication-assisted treatment within six months of a dependence/abuse/overdose diagnosis in 2016 as compared with 2010.

The audit makes no recommendations, and Yost hasn't taken a position on the ongoing debate over Medicaid expansion.

Some say expansion can't be sustained financially, while others argue that any cutback would undermine state efforts to combat the opioid crisis.

Yost, a Republican, is running as a candidate for Ohio attorney general in the fall against Democrat Stephen Dettelbach, a former U.S. attorney.

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