One critical way to address the overdose epidemic is by increasing access to medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD), which are safe, effective medications that can save lives and bring down the overdose death rate. It is particularly important that evidence-based treatments, like MOUD, reach the populations disproportionately affected by opioid use disorder. Research demonstrates stark racial disparities in access to MOUD, with studies reporting lower access to MOUD by Black patients compared to their white counterparts. Disparities in MOUD treatment access are closely associated with poor health outcomes, further emphasizing the need to increase access to MOUD. While overdose death rates have increased in every major demographic group, they have most sharply increased among Black men and women. States that strategically invest in expanding access to MOUD and other evidence-based services can achieve higher engagement rates in treatment and better reach the populations disproportionately affected by SUD and related overdose deaths.

Drawing from State Principles for Financing Substance Use Care, Treatment, and Support Services, this checklist identifies four areas for states to explore as they consider expanding MOUD:

  1. Assess the status of public financing for MOUD;
  2. Identify strategies to grow the number of providers who offer MOUD;
  3. Identify existing policy barriers to MOUD expansion; and
  4. Target MOUD expansion efforts to address SUD care inequities.

The checklist is part of a series detailing practical steps to guide state policy development aimed at strengthening substance use disorder (SUD) treatment systems, with a focus on sustainability and equity. It draws from the report State Principles for Financing Substance Use Care, Treatment, and Support Services. The report and series were developed by the Center for Health Care Strategies through a partnership with The Pew Charitable Trusts and support from Bloomberg Philanthropies.