Oct 10, 2018

Medicaid expansion isn't fueling the opioid crisis

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

South Korea and Italy step up emergency measures as coronavirus cases jump

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus has spread to more nations as South Korea and Italy step up emergency measures in their countries amid rising case numbers on Sunday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed at least 2,462 people and infected almost 79,000 others, mostly in mainland China. South Korea increased the infectious disease alert to red, the highest possible, as its case numbers jumped to 602 and the death toll to five. Italy's government announced emergency measures, with several towns in the north effectively placed in lockdown, as it confirmed two deaths and infections rose to 79.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health

Bernie Sanders wins Nevada caucus

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders waves to supporters at a campaign rally on Friday in Las Vegas. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders is projected to handily win the Nevada Democratic primary caucus, becoming the clear frontrunner among 2020 Democratic presidential primary election candidates.

Why it matters: Nevada is the first state with a diverse population to hold a nominating contest, highlighting candidates' abilities to connect with voters of color — particularly Latino voters.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Heat wave melts 20% of snow cover from Antarctic island in days

The effects of February's record heat wave on Eagle Island in Antarctica. Photo: NASA

Antarctica's Eagle Island now has a side that's almost ice-free following this month's searing heat wave in the region, images released by NASA show.

Why it maters: "The warm spell caused widespread melting on nearby glaciers," NASA said in its report. It's the third major melt event of the 2019-2020 Southern Hemisphere summer, following warm spells in January and last November, according to the United Nation's World Meteorological Organization (WMO).