All for One and One for All: Developing Coordinated State Opioid Strategies

Focus Area:
State Health Policy Leadership
Mental Health Medicaid Population Health

The opioid epidemic has spawned numerous state efforts to develop strategies that involve law enforcement, public health, Medicaid, and other state agencies. While each strategy on its own may be worthwhile, effectively coordinating these efforts will likely prove to be the key to reducing the number of families and communities damaged by opioid abuse.

This issue brief, produced in partnership with the Center for Evidence-based Policy at Oregon Health & Science University and written by health policy journalist Noam Levey, is based on interviews with more than two dozen current and former state officials in public health, Medicaid, law enforcement, corrections, and behavioral health. The brief summarizes the critical experiences of senior public officials working on the crisis in leading states. It also identifies the key ingredients in a coordinated state opioid strategy:

  • Leadership from a governor who has prioritized the opioid crisis
  • A formal organizational structure to bring together multiple state departments
  • Robust engagement with outside stakeholders
  • An intense focus on the collection and dissemination of timely, accurate data.

We hope the insights in this issue brief will inform state leaders and others engaged in the work of combating this deadly epidemic.