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Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

A new study pours even more cold water — and there's already been a lot of cold water here — on the idea that the Medicaid expansion has fueled the opioid epidemic.

The details: The study, from the University of Pennsylvania’s Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, shows that the rate of overdose deaths in Medicaid expansion states is lower, not higher, than in non-expansion states.

  • It looks at three states that expanded Medicaid before the Affordable Care Act: Arizona, Maine and New York. (The authors say that’s because the opioid epidemic was already underway when the ACA’s Medicaid expansion began.)
  • It found that opioid deaths rose more slowly in those states than in nearby states that didn’t expand Medicaid, as well as in all non-expansion states.

The bottom line: A lot of the “Medicaid is bad for opioids” argument is built on the idea that Medicaid expansion gives people more access to opioids. But multiple studies have questioned that theory, and Medicaid expansion is also a critical avenue to expand treatment for addiction.

Go deeper

22 mins ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.