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THURSDAY, Aug. 22, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- The use of the opioid addiction medication buprenorphine is much higher in states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act than in those that did not expand the program, a new study finds.
It noted that the five states with the highest prescribing rates for buprenorphine -- Vermont, West Virginia, Kentucky, Montana and Ohio -- all expanded the program, The New York Times reported.
Buprenorphine eases opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
Nationwide, there was a nearly five-fold increase in the number of Medicaid-covered prescriptions for buprenorphine between 2011 and 2018, from 1.3 million to 6.2 million, according to the study from the Urban Institute, a nonprofit research group.
The findings add to evidence that the Affordable Care Act is playing a major role in combating the nation's opioid epidemic, according to The Times.
"Expanding Medicaid is probably the most important thing states can do to increase treatment rates," said study lead author Lisa Clemans-Cope.
Over the past decade, there have been hundreds of thousands of opioid overdose deaths in the U.S., including nearly 48,000 last year, but most people with opioid addiction don't receive treatment, according to government data, The Times reported.
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