Medicaid Tied to Better Addiction Treatment in Pregnancy

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 22, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Pregnancy and opioid addiction are an all-too-common problem in the United States. And where you live may affect your treatment.

Addicted moms-to-be are more likely to receive recommended therapy if they live in states where anti-addiction medications are covered by Medicaid, a new study says.

Medication-assisted treatment — usually with the drug methadone or sometimes buprenorphine — is considered the most effective therapy for opioid dependency in pregnancy, the researchers said in background notes. Their study appears in the December issue of the journal Medical Care.

"Our findings suggest that Medicaid coverage of methadone maintenance should be considered a key policy strategy to support pregnant women, their families, and enable their providers to deliver effective care," lead author Dr. Marcus Bachhuber said in a journal news release. He's with Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.

The researchers examined data from nearly 3,400 pregnant women undergoing treatment for addiction to prescription painkillers, heroin or other opioids. About 2,500 women were in 18 states that covered methadone treatment and 900 were in states that did not cover methadone.

Rates of planned use of the anti-addiction drug were 61 percent among women in states with Medicaid coverage for methadone and 28 percent among women in states without such coverage.

"If we want to help children of women with opioid addiction get the best possible start in life, we must give their mothers access to evidence-based medications during pregnancy," said Dr. Laura Faherty, of the RAND Corporation in Boston.

More information

The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has more on methadone.

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