News & Updates FORE Announcements

FORE Awards $386,068 Grant to Researchers Tracking How Medicaid Unwinding Affects Access to OUD Treatment

March 07, 2024

During the years of the COVID-19 pandemic, a federal flexibility in policy required state Medicaid programs to keep low-income individuals continuously enrolled, but in March 2023 this requirement was dropped, and states began to disenroll people, referred to as “unwinding.” Since Medicaid covers approximately 40% of all people using medication-based treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD), it is important to understand the impact these policy changes are having on people with opioid use disorder.

FORE today announced a $386,068 grant to RAND to assess the impact of Medicaid unwinding on access to buprenorphine, an evidence-based treatment for OUD, particularly for at-risk populations who often face significant barriers to accessing treatment. This project builds on a previous grant to RAND that used data from retail pharmacies across the U.S. to examine how pandemic-era regulatory flexibilities affected access to treatment for Medicaid beneficiaries.

“Medicaid is the single largest payer for OUD treatment and a lifeline for people who are often at the highest risk of overdose,” said Karen A. Scott, MD, MPH, president of FORE. “It is therefore critical to understand such a significant shift in the program may be impacting a person’s ability to initiate and continue medications for OUD.”

Relatedly, FORE will host a webinar on the “State Policy Landscape to Address the Opioid and Overdose Crisis in 2024,” featuring RAND and other experts next week on March 13, at 3pm ET.