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States Bear Increasing Costs of Fighting Opioid Crisis

More than 700,000 people in the United States have died from opioid overdose, and the largest costs of the crisis are related to health care, according to Penn State University research.

State Medicaid programs spent at least $72 billion due to opioid misuse from 1999 to 2013 (the most recent data available) and an estimated $40 billion since, totaling $112 billion. These costs are associated with treating people for opioid misuse and related health consequences, such as hepatitis C and HIV.

States have led the fight against the opioid crisis, in part, by suing opioid manufacturers to offset the costs of combating the crisis.

Researchers estimate the opioid crisis has cost states no less than $130 billion in non–health care costs to date, with annual costs of $6 to $10 billion. Each year, states lose workers from the opioid epidemic, reducing tax revenue. States also spend significant resources on corrections related to opioid misuse, and opioid overdose leads to increased intervention from state welfare and child protection agencies.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at eomalley@essentialhospitals.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.

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About the Author

Kelcie Jimenez is a state policy analyst at America's Essential Hospitals.

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