Study: Missouri, Kansas residents have poor access to opioid treatment

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Results from a study released by The Pew Charitable Trusts on Thursday show Missouri and Kansas residents don’t have effective access to treatment for Opioid Use Disorder (OUD). 

The study shows geography and health insurance coverage, rather than medical need, often determines whether patients can access effective treatment for OUD, shining light on the fact that some individuals can’t access critical resources, simply due to where they live or what health insurance they have.

“Only one OTP (opioid treatment program) in Kansas accepts it and just a quarter in Missouri, and that’s a real barrier to care,” said Frances McGaffey, officer at The Pew Charitable Trusts.

!function(e,i,n,s){var t=”InfogramEmbeds”,d=e.getElementsByTagName(“script”)[0];if(window[t]&&window[t].initialized)window[t].process&&window[t].process();else if(!e.getElementById(n)){var o=e.createElement(“script”);o.async=1,,o.src=””,d.parentNode.insertBefore(o,d)}}(document,0,”infogram-async”);

The study reveals 93.8% of opioid treatment programs in Missouri offer buprenorphine, a form of medication for OUD, but only 25% of treatment programs will accept Medicaid insurance in the state.

“If their insurance isn’t accepted, they can’t get the life saving treatment that they need,” she said.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, buprenorphine, as well as twice-weekly visits, cost a stable patient receiving OTP care an estimated $115 per week or $5,890 per year.

That’s nearly 40% more than what individuals who receive health care for diabetes mellitus, at $3,560, spend annually.

Data also shows only 31.3% of OTPs in Missouri offer mental health services, as well as medication services. In Kansas, only 14.3% of OTPs offer mental health treatment, a 75.6% difference.

“Mental illness is really common among people with opioid use disorder,” McGaffey said. “If you can imagine, you’d have to go to two places to get what you need, it just makes your life a lot harder.”

She said policy makers should look at the data in their state and work with providers to understand how to better cater to the needs of individuals with an opioid use disorder.

“We know that stigma absolutely plays a role in how people think about methadone and opioid treatment programs, in general,” she said. “They were originally established to fight crime, rather than to serve the needs of those patients.” 

“I think that we see that reflected in a one-side-fits-all treatment approach when it doesn’t provide tailored programming for pregnant people or people who don’t speak English or have other needs.”

Data shows 56.3% of OTPs in Missouri offer treatment accommodating pregnant women and foreign speakers. Meanwhile, 18.8% of programs offer specialized treatment to veterans, and 12.5% to the LGTBQ community.

Not a single OTP in Missouri or Kansas offers specialized treatment for adolescents.

“Methadone is a life saving treatment that’s out of reach for too many,” McGaffey said. “That’s why PEW conducted this research.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *