The pandemic has worsened an existing drug overdose crisis that claimed the lives of more than 81,000 people in the U.S. from May 2019-June 2020. As the Biden-Harris administration firms up and implements its proposed response to the opioid epidemic, this brief provides evidence-based recommendations to consider.
We focus our recommendations on the evidence and our experience in three areas: reducing the demand for opioids through policies that increase access to prevention, treatment, and recovery services; reducing the harms from opioid use through strategies that reduce morbidity and mortality; and reducing the supply of opioids through opioid stewardship that limits prescribing by the medical community and promotes adequate pain management. We also address the accountability of the pharmaceutical industry in contributing to the crisis and recommend ways to target settlement funds for maximal impact on the communities most affected.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) overturned their longstanding requirement that physicians must receive approval and undergo training to prescribe buprenorphine, the topline treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD). This is an historic shift in policy, and its importance cannot be overstated.
These days, it feels like every article is a COVID-19 article.
In our recent blog post, we explore barriers to behavioral health care in the United States and discuss an alternate strategy: integrated care. Traditionally, integrated care has entailed behavioral health care delivered by a primary care provider.
Imagine struggling with a behavioral health issue, searching for a local psychiatrist, and finding out the provider you’ve chosen doesn’t accept insurance. You wouldn’t be alone: most psychiatrists in the United States don’t. But let’s say your plan has some out-of-network benefits, which means you pay the full cost up front and request an itemized receipt for every appointment.
People with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have a wide range of symptoms and skillsets, and people with severe ASD are often overlooked by researchers. Although policies may target individuals with ASD who have higher service needs, the evaluation of these policies frequently focus on an average effect.
A study doesn’t end with publishing its findings— for its impact to be fully realized, the findings must be disseminated. Even when research is adequately publicized, excessive jargon can prevent lay readers from understanding what it means. Since the clarity of scientific abstracts is declining over time, academics must go beyond publication to make their work accessible. One way to surmount the information barriers is to collaborate with journalists, who can help translate our research into action.
Mental health continues to live on the fringes of the health care delivery system. According to the former Surgeon General, “even more than other areas of health and medicine, the mental health field is plagued by disparities in the availability of and access to its services,” with significant barriers related to patients’ socioeconomic background.
House Speaker Ryan recently claimed that “[t]he problem that we’re seeing in Medicaid is more and more doctors just won’t take Medicaid, because they lose money on Medicaid.” Our new paper in JAMA Internal Medicine, “Changes in Primary Care Between 2012 and 2016 for New Patients with Medicaid and Private Coverage,” suggests otherwise.