Some Medicaid recipients in New York have received unnecessary or potentially dangerous opioid prescriptions outside of their addiction treatment efforts, a report released Monday by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office found.
The audit, part of a series of audits reviewing opioid use in New York, found programs offering treatment services have in many cases not checked to determine whether patients are receiving opioid prescriptions or coordinating with health care providers.
“New York and the rest of the country are facing an opioid addiction epidemic, and people’s lives are at stake,” DiNapoli said. “Programs designed to get individuals off highly addictive opioids can only be effective with proper vigilance. The state Department of Health should take steps to help treatment programs and health care providers work together to prevent overdoses that could lead to hospitalizations or death.”
Auditors review Department of Health records from Oct. 1, 2013 through Sept. 30, 2017, finding more than 180,000 Medicaid recipients who received 208,198 prescriptions for opioid use through the program. At the same time, they were receiving opioids, often methadone, as part of a treatment for opioid use disorder.
Thirty-three percent of Medicaid recipients in treatment programs are receiving prescription opioids outside of that program, with 3 percent of those patients having received medical care for an overdose within a month of obtaining a prescription.
Recommendations include having the Department of Health improve its scrutiny of opioid prescriptions for Medicaid recipients who are being treated for use disorders and issuing a guidance to remind treatment programs of their statutory and regulatory requirement to consult the I-STOP database.