“Maintenance of Access as Demand for Substance Use Disorder Treatment Grows,” by me, Jodie Trafton, and Steven D. Pizer:
Due to the Affordable Care Act and other recent laws and regulations, funding for substance use disorder (SUD) treatment is on the rise. In the 2000s, the Veterans Health Administration (VA) implemented several initiatives that increased funding for SUD treatment during a period of growth in demand for it. A key question is whether access to and intensity of treatment kept pace or declined. Using VA SUD treatment funding data and patient level records to construct performance measures, we studied the relationship between funding and access during the VA expansion. Overall, we observed an increase in access to and intensity of VA SUD care associated with increased funding. The VA was able to increase funding for and expand the population to which it offered SUD treatment without diminishing internal access and intensity.