Examining the Effects of and Policy Responses to the Opioid Epidemic
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
This panel offers insights on the impact of and response to the national opioid epidemic at different scales (individual, hospital, state, and federal), across different demographics (women, young people, the uninsured), and in different geographic and cultural regions of the country. Two papers shed light on patient-level experiences to opioid exposure. The first examines the implications of aging out of the Affordable Care Act’s dependent coverage mandate on the likelihood of purchasing prescribed opioids in a nationwide, longitudinal study. The second article examines the efficacy of substance abuse treatment facilities for opioid use disorders, accounting for the demographics of admitees, the primary drug of abuse reported at the time of admission, and expected payer for treatment. Together, these articles point to preventative policy strategies to target population subsets at potential risk of opioid use disorders. These articles further provide insights about the role of expected payers for both opioid addiction onset and addiction treatment outcomes. The second set of articles considers various institutional dimensions of response to the opioid epidemic. One paper leverages a new survey of county governments across five geographically dispersed and politically “purple” states (Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington) including rural areas and large population centers, to examine local-level policy strategies to address opioid-related problems, accounting for environmental, organizational, and institutional factors. The final paper examines the effect of state-level legislation on surveillance and reporting of opioid prescriptions, overdose (re)admissions, and opioid overdose deaths at the hospital level. Altogether, these papers present a snapshot of the efforts to address the opioid crisis longitudinally (2006-2019) and through policy innovation and learning. The papers on this panel reflect methodological diversity, varying theoretical frameworks, and units of analyses. Further, these articles reflect collaboration among practitioners and the academy. The former not only provide input on research design and foci, but also assist with the dissemination of the findings to decision makers responding to this complex problem.