Elimination of methadone benefits in the Oregon health plan and its effects on patients

Bret E. Fuller, Traci R. Rieckmann, Dennis J. McCarty, Roz Ringor-Carty, Sandy Kennard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objectives: This prospective study assessed the impacts of a policy change to Oregon's Medicaid program (Oregon Health Plan; OHP) that eliminated methadone benefits for 60 percent of active methadone patients. Recipients of OHP Standard (expanded Medicaid benefits, which were discontinued after the policy change) self-selected into two groups: those who paid for methadone after the policy change and those who terminated treatment. OHP Plus beneficiaries (traditional Medicaid) did not lose benefits. Methods: A total of 149 patients participated in the study, and interviews were conducted at baseline (time of policy change) and one, three, and 12 months after the policy change. Patients were assessed with the Addiction Severity Index (ASI), Timeline Follow Back assessment, and chart review. Results: Patients who left treatment because they were unable to pay for methadone services showed significant elevations in ASI composite scores for drug and legal problems at baseline and at two and three months after the policy change. The patients who attempted to self-pay experienced significantly more employment problems than the other two groups. The OHP Standard recipients who paid for their methadone treatment over the year were more likely to have additional resources to pay for methadone, be employed, and have stable housing. Conclusions: The elimination of methadone treatment benefits in the OHP had substantial negative impacts for patients with the greatest indicators of need.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)686-691
Number of pages6
JournalPsychiatric Services
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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