UofSC researcher to examine the effectiveness of Medicaid-covered alcohol use disorder treatment

Christina Andrews, associate professor of health services policy and management at the University of South Carolina's Arnold School of Public Health and an expert on addiction treatment will lead a study funded by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to examine the effectiveness of Medicaid-covered alcohol use disorder treatment.

Andrews and co-principal investigator Amanda Abraham, an associate professor of public administration and policy at the University of Georgia, will use a $2.5 million, four-year R01 grant to conduct their research.

The United States continues to grapple with rising alcohol-related hospitalization and mortality. Expanding access to alcohol use disorder treatment is an urgent public health priority."

Christina Andrews, associate professor of health services policy and management at the University of South Carolina's Arnold School of Public Health

Medicaid is intended to increase access and reduce mortality among vulnerable populations; however, many state-level programs do not cover all the needed treatments for alcohol use disorder and have policies that restrict access. Further, most Medicaid programs contract with managed care organizations. Despite this prevalence of partnerships, little is known about the content, implementation and outcomes of the specific, varied plans that are offered.

With this study, which is the first of its kind, Andrews and her team will investigate the effects of these programs on access to alcohol use disorder treatment as well as adverse outcomes for the participants (e.g., emergency department visits, hospitalizations, mortality). The project will encompass 142 different Medicaid-contracted managed care organization plans across 18 states and the full continuum of treatment.

"This research will provide tangible guidance to states and Medicaid managed care organization plans," Andrews says. "Specifically, it will help us better understand how to best structure coverage and utilization management parameters to ensure appropriate and efficient access to alcohol use disorder treatment."

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