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Study: Medicaid expansion linked to 6 percent decline in opioid overdose deaths

Study: Medicaid expansion linked to 6 percent decline in opioid overdose deaths
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Medicaid expansion was linked to a 6 percent reduction in opioid overdose deaths, according to a new study. 

The study in an online version of the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that counties in states that accepted the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) had a 6 percent lower rate of opioid overdose deaths compared to counties in states that did not expand Medicaid. 

The study finds the data indicates that Medicaid expansion may have prevented between 1,678 and 8,132 deaths from opioid overdoses between 2015 and 2017. For comparison, there were 82,228 total opioid overdose deaths in that time period, the study states.  

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“These findings add to the emerging body of evidence that Medicaid expansion under the ACA may be a critical component of state efforts to address the continuing opioid overdose epidemic in the United States,” the study states. 

The study could provide fodder for Democrats pushing for more states to accept the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. 

There has been some momentum on that front, including a deal announced Thursday by bipartisan leaders in Kansas to allow the state to expand Medicaid. 

Thirteen other states have not expanded Medicaid, with some Republicans objecting to the cost of the program and saying it should not be extended to able-bodied adults who have the ability to work.