Working Paper

Who Gets Medication-assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder, and Does It Reduce Overdose Risk? Evidence from the Rhode Island All-payer Claims Database

Abstract: This paper uses the all-payer claims database (APCD) for Rhode Island to study three questions about the use of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder (OUD): (1) Does MAT reduce the risk of opioid overdose; (2) are there systematic differences in the uptake of MAT by observable patient-level characteristics; and (3) how successful were federal policy changes implemented in 2016 that sought to promote increased use of buprenorphine, one of three medication options within MAT? Regarding the first question, we find that MAT as practiced in Rhode Island is associated with a reduced risk of repeated opioid overdose among patients who had an initial nonfatal opioid overdose, consistent with the strong endorsement of MAT by public health officials. Concerning the second, we find that factors such as age, gender, health insurance payer, and the poverty rate in one’s residential Zip code are associated with significant differences in the chance of receiving methadone and/or buprenorphine, suggesting that certain groups may face unwarranted disparities in access to MAT. About the third question, we find that a 2016 federal rule change enabled at least some experienced Rhode Island buprenorphine prescribers to reach more patients, and a separate 2016 policy aimed at recruiting new buprenorphine prescribers was also found to be effective. However, the data also suggest that many more patients in the state could be treated with buprenorphine if prescribers took full advantage of their prescribing limits.

Keywords: medication-assisted treatment; opioid use disorder; overdose; Rhode Island; all-payer claims database; methadone; buprenorphine;

JEL Classification: I12; I13; I14; I18;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

Part of Series: Working Papers

Publication Date: 2021-02-01

Number: 21-3