Resources for Improving SUD Treatment Through State Medicaid Programs


Medicaid is the Nation’s largest payer for substance use disorder (SUD) treatment and recovery services, and as a result, plays a significant role in shaping SUD treatment delivery and reimbursement. The following resources, produced in coordination with AcademyHealth’s Medicaid Outcomes Distributed Research Network (MODRN), examine the policy levers available to state Medicaid programs to improve SUD treatment and offer examples of SUD care delivery innovations.

  • Julie Donohue and colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh developed a primer for policymakers. This resource outlines how state Medicaid programs can use their role “as payer and contractor; collaborator; evaluator and educator; and as regulator, monitor, and enforcer” to improve SUD treatment.
  • AcademyHealth’s Susan Kennedy and Logan Sheets authored a new issue brief describing two important delivery innovations in opioid use disorder (OUD) care. The brief provides an overview of the innovative approaches, “health homes” and “warm handoffs and care transitions,” and recent examples from state Medicaid programs, such as Pennsylvania’s Centers of Excellence Program, which are “designed to engage and retain people with OUD in treatment.

The National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) provides ongoing research and resources on the strategies states are using to combat SUD and OUD. These include reports, webinars, and information on Medicaid approaches. In particular, NASHP has established a State Policy Center for Opioid Use Disorder Treatment and Access. NASHP notes, “The opioid use disorder (OUD) epidemic extends beyond the boundaries of traditional state health systems, requiring evidence-based treatment and coordination between state agencies and leaders. To optimize all potential avenues to treatment and reduce overdoses, the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) is working with states to develop a “no-wrong-door” approach to treatment that prioritizes cross-systems policies.”