Medicaid Coverage of Methadone Maintenance and the Use of Opioid Agonist Therapy Among Pregnant Women in Specialty Treatment

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Abstract

Background:

Opioid agonist therapy (OAT) is the standard of care for pregnant women with opioid use disorder (OUD). Medicaid coverage policies may strongly influence OAT use in this group.

Objective:

To examine the association between Medicaid coverage of methadone maintenance and planned use of OAT in the publicly funded treatment system.

Research Design:

Retrospective cross-sectional analysis of treatment admissions in 30 states extracted from the Treatment Episode Data Set (2013 and 2014).

Subjects:

Medicaid-insured pregnant women with OUD (n=3354 treatment admissions).

Measures:

The main outcome measure was planned use of OAT on admission. The main exposure was state Medicaid coverage of methadone maintenance. Using multivariable logistic regression models adjusting for sociodemographic, substance use, and treatment characteristics, we compared the probability of planned OAT use in states with Medicaid coverage of methadone maintenance versus states without coverage.

Results:

A total of 71% of pregnant women admitted to OUD treatment were 18–29 years old, 85% were white non-Hispanic, and 56% used heroin. Overall, 74% of admissions occurred in the 18 states with Medicaid coverage of methadone maintenance and 53% of admissions involved planned use of OAT. Compared with states without Medicaid coverage of methadone maintenance, admissions in states with coverage were significantly more likely to involve planned OAT use (adjusted difference: 32.9 percentage points, 95% confidence interval, 19.2–46.7).

Conclusions:

Including methadone maintenance in the Medicaid benefit is essential to increasing OAT among pregnant women with OUD and should be considered a key policy strategy to enhance outcomes for mothers and newborns.

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