State Policies and Buprenorphine Prescribing by Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants

Published in: Medical Care Research and Review (2022). doi: 10.1177/10775587221086489

Posted on RAND.org on June 02, 2022

by Jordan M. Harrison, Rose Kerber, Barbara Andraka-Christou, Mark J. Sorbero, Bradley D. Stein

Nurse practitioner (NP) and physician assistant (PA) prescribing can increase access to buprenorphine treatment for opioid use disorder. In this cross-sectional study, we used deidentified claims from approximately 90% of U.S. retail pharmacies (2017–2018) to examine the association of state policies with the odds of receiving buprenorphine treatment from an NP/PA versus a physician, overall and stratified by urban/rural status. From 2017 to 2018, the percentage of buprenorphine treatment episodes prescribed by NPs/PAs varied widely across states, from 0.4% in Alabama to 57.2% in Montana. Policies associated with greater odds of buprenorphine treatment from an NP/PA included full scope of practice (SOP) for NPs, full SOP for PAs, Medicaid pay parity for NPs (reimbursement at 100% of the fee-for-service physician rate), and Medicaid expansion. Although most findings with respect to policies were similar in urban and rural settings, the association of Medicaid expansion with NP/PA buprenorphine treatment was driven by rural counties.

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