Medicaid-Covered Peer Support Services Used by Enrollees With Opioid Use Disorder

Peer support services (PSS) play an increasingly important role in supporting recovery for people with substance use disorder (SUD). Through these services, peer support workers combine lived experience and professional training to provide health education, encouragement and empathy, recovery modeling, and concrete assistance in overcoming barriers to recovery. As of 2018, 37 Medicaid programs covered PSS for SUD.  

In a research letter in JAMA Network Open, Dr. Yuhua Bao, professor of population health sciences, and colleagues investigated multi-state utilization of Medicaid-covered PSS in 2019. 

Researchers found that overall use of Medicaid-covered PSS was infrequent among enrollees with opioid use disorder. However, use varied substantially among the 28 states evaluated. Dually eligible enrollees, despite greater severity of disability, were less likely to have used PSS. The largest proportion of users received only one to two days of Medicaid-covered PSS over an entire year, indicating that Medicaid-covered PSS may not have been effectively utilized to support recovery. Researchers suggest that further investigation is needed to determine the barriers to accessing PSS and effective means of providing PSS to Medicaid enrollees.  

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