What We're Reading: Opioid Alternative; Indiana's Medicaid Expansion; Maine to Link Work to Medicaid

Companies Seek an Alternative Option to Opioids

New “bespoke” drugs may be one of a few new viable alternatives to addictive opioids, which doctors are trying to avoid prescribing as the United States battles an opioid epidemic. According to the AP, companies have been searching for alternatives with little success over the years, but new drugs that target specific pathways rather than acting broadly could replace opioids. Other options include drugs that prevent the need for opioids to treat pain, existing drugs for other conditions, such as seizure and depression, and drugs from unusual sources, such as snake venom and chili peppers.

How Has Indiana’s Medicaid Expansion Worked?

Indiana’s Medicaid expansion, implemented by Vice President Mike Pence when he was governor, had some conservative twists that may be a blueprint for red states looking to expand under the new administration. Politico took a look at the program’s outcomes 2 years later. The program required enrollees to contribute to their care, and contrary to what opponents of the program thought, the requirement didn’t reduce enrollment. However, the idea that patients having more “skin in the game” would help them make better treatment decisions hasn’t exactly manifested either.

Maine Seeks to Link Medicaid to Work

Following in Indiana’s footsteps, Maine is looking to make changes to its Medicaid program that the last administration might not have been open to. The state actually wants to reduce enrollment in the program and hopefully raise incomes by linking enrollment in Medicaid to work requirements, reported The Wall Street Journal. The plan follows a 2014 requirement that able-bodied adults without dependents be working in some way in order to receive food assistance. Enrollment in the program dropped and the population most affected started receiving higher wages, according to the state.