Medicaid’s Important Role to Curb Opioid Abuse: An Underutilized Tool in Tennessee.
Tennessee Justice Center.
Published: October 2017
Tennessee Justice Center
211 7th Avenue North, Suite 100
Nashville, TN 37219
This brief explains Tennessee is among the States that have been hit hardest by the national opioid abuse crisis and is facing higher than average rates of prescriptions, newborns with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, children in state custody, people incarcerated for drug-related offenses, and overdose deaths. Information is then provided on how Medicaid can be used through TennCare to provide both prevention and treatment of substance use disorders. It calls for the implementation of the recommendations of the legislature’s Three-Star Task Force to use federal Medicaid funding to extend coverage to veterans and adults with behavioral health needs, and for TennCare to make medication assisted treatment more accessible by removing the requirement for prior authorization to prescribe medications that are proven effective for opioid abuse treatment. In addition, the brief states TennCare should ensure that MCO utilization review practices do not impair access to medically necessary treatment, and that TennCare should reexamine its 2005 decision to discontinue coverage of methadone treatment for adults based on the latest research and the experience of the 31 other States that cover such therapy. Information is provided on opioid abuse in Tennessee, the importance of Medicaid in treating substance use disorders, and current threats to Medicaid funding. 48 references. (Author abstract modified)
Tennessee; Medicaid; state federal aid; substance abuse treatment; barriers; opioid addiction; public health services; drug therapy