Lawmakers and the media have devoted much of their attention to deaths from opioid overdoses, as well as to the broader ?deaths of despair? that include suicides and deaths from alcoholic liver disease and cirrhosis. Still, misinformation about the epidemic runs rampant.
By conventional wisdom, tackling this crisis would require extending Medicaid and improving how it functions, cracking down on prescription painkillers and getting more health-care resources into rural communities.
But that?s not exactly right. To correct the record, here are four points to bear in mind:
? Medicaid isn?t the problem (and isn?t the solution).
© Jorge Plaza Marquez
© Jorge Marquez Plaza
Critics of Medicaid argue that the program enables the epidemic by paying for prescription opioids. In fact, Princeton University researchers Janet Currie and Molly Schnell calculate that only 8 percent of all opioid prescriptions from January 2006 to March 2015 were paid for by Medicaid, based on data from QuintilesIMS, a leading healthcare information company.