Impact of Medicaid Restrictions on Availability of Buprenorphine in Addiction Treatment Programs

Peter Friedmann MD, Baystate Health



To examine how utilization restrictions on state Medicaid benefits for buprenorphine are related to addiction treatment programs' decision to offer the drug.


We used data from 2 waves of the National Drug Abuse Treatment System Survey conducted in 2014 and 2017 in the United States to assess the relationship of utilization restrictions to buprenorphine availability.


The proportion of programs offering buprenorphine was 43.2% in states that did not impose any utilization restrictions, 25.5% in states that imposed only annual limits, 17.3% in states that imposed only prior authorization, and 12.8% in states that imposed both. Programs in states requiring prior authorization from Medicaid had substantially lower odds of offering buprenorphine (odds ratio = 0.50; 95% confidence interval = 0.29, 0.87).


Medicaid prior authorization was linked to lower odds of buprenorphine provision among addiction treatment programs. Public Health Implications. State Medicaid prior authorization requirements are linked to reduced odds of buprenorphine provision among addiction treatment programs and may discourage prescribing.