The Institute for Medicaid Innovation recently hosted a summit titled "Opioid Epidemic: Crisis to Care in Medicaid," during which recovering opioid addict Emily Keener shared her story of addiction and treatment.
Keener said an essential element in her recovery efforts was her ability to use Missouri's Comprehensive Substance Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation program, which is paid through Medicaid, an article about the summit posted on the American Academy of Family Physicians website said. After several family tragedies, she relapsed, but received treatment from the Women in Shared Healing (WISH) program. The WISH program is provided by a Medicaid contractor.
Like many who suffer from opioid addictions, Keener's story began with a prescription opioid after a C-section. She became addicted and when prescription medications were no longer available, she began using heroin. Her addiction resulted in the loss of her car and home. She was unable to pay her bills. Her next pregnancy resulted in her successful treatment. She is now 11 months in recovery, the article said.
"I know nobody wants to think it's a disease," Keener said in the article about the summit. "But nobody wakes up wanting to be like that."
While the panelists agreed that Medicaid is critical to successful recovery, the program only pays for six months of treatment. Many patients require ongoing treatment to maintain their recovery efforts.
The opioid epidemic exploded between 2000 and 2012, with hospital visits due to opioid abuse doubling over that time period. The majority of these visits were paid for by Medicaid.
Pregnant women are at risk, with only 13 percent of treatment programs offering services specific to pregnant and postpartum women, the article said. Opioid abuse in pregnant women has grown from 1.2 per 1,000 births in 2000 to 5.7 per 1,000 births in 2009.
"We can address multiple issues that can affect a healthy pregnancy, but often this doesn't happen because we don't find out about it (the pregnancy) until they come in," panelist and assistant professor of family medicine Dr. David O'Gurek said in the article.