Opioid pills Some in the policy arena have raised questions about the effectiveness of Medicaid expansion in addressing opioid abuse and the possibility of creating increased access to prescription painkillers.

A new study in the JAMA Open Network links the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with an overall reduction in opioid deaths.

The study notes that drug overdose is a leading cause of injury-related death in the U.S., resulting in more than 200 deaths a day—and more than 700,000 per year. “Fatal drug overdoses have increased markedly during the past 2 decades in large part because of overdoses involving opioids, including prescription opioids and illegal opioids, such as heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl,” the study said. “Between 2001 and 2017, the age-adjusted mortality rate for opioid-related overdoses more than quadrupled, from 3.3 to 14.9 per 100,000 standard population.”

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