New research shows that the four largest opioid cases in the United States all involve states that have expanded Medicaid coverage and are suing the federal government for denying their Medicaid patients the drug.
The opioid-related cases in Ohio, Kentucky, Texas, and New Mexico all involve lawsuits against the federal Government for not providing Medicaid patients with the drug when it was available.
Ohio, for instance, filed its lawsuit in 2014 to stop the expansion of Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
The state argues that the Medicaid expansion violates federal law, which prohibits states from denying Medicaid patients access to the drug if they are eligible for it under the Medicaid program.
The opioid-specific cases include: Ohio and Texas sued the federal Health and Human Services Department for failing to adequately provide Medicaid patients under the ACA with the opioid medications, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
The lawsuit claims that the department failed to provide Medicaid beneficiaries with the medication at least twice during the last six months of the state’s fiscal year.
Kentucky and Texas also sued the Federal Emergency Management Agency for failing “to provide adequate coverage of opioid-assisted treatment and related medical services to Medicaid recipients in Kentucky,” according to a lawsuit filed in Kentucky.
Ohio, Kentucky and Texas are the first states to file lawsuits in which they claim the federal governments failure to provide them with the opioids has resulted in the deaths of some Medicaid beneficiaries.
The lawsuits filed in these states, along with Ohio, Texas and Kentucky, allege that they are in danger of losing Medicaid coverage if the federal agencies failure to offer them coverage remains in effect for the next two years.
While Ohio and Kentucky have filed their lawsuits, there are more than 100 similar cases pending against the Federal Government in the four states, according a new report from the non-partisan Institute for Justice.
The IJ’s report, titled A Tale of Two Opioid Wars, notes that while the states are not claiming that they will lose Medicaid, their lawsuits could result in millions of dollars in damages to the federal, state, and local governments.
The report says that the opioid-linked cases could “provide valuable information about the scope of the federal opioid problem and help inform litigation strategy.”
Read the full report (Read the IJ report here) The state of Kentucky is the third state to file an opioid-themed lawsuit in the wake of its Medicaid expansion.
The Ohio case is the first to involve Medicaid expansion and Ohio’s lawsuit is the second.
“The opioid litigation has become a very real threat to states, as Medicaid beneficiaries are now faced with uncertainty about when they will be able to access these medications and other medical services that are essential to their lives,” said IJ Senior Attorney Mark Rosenberg.
“States must now respond to these threats by protecting Medicaid, not denying it.”
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine also pointed out that Ohio is one of just five states that has not expanded Medicaid under the federal law.
In Texas, the opioid cases are the third-highest number of cases filed in the last year, according to the Texas Tribune.
The first two cases in Texas were against the state and the federal.
Read the full report