Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair/Advisor

Devon Gorry

Committee Member

Babur De los Santos

Committee Member

Scott Templeton


The opioid epidemic is an ongoing health crisis in the United States, claiming the lives of thousands over the past two decades. In 2014, provisions of the Affordable Care Act expanding Medicaid officially came in effect, extending healthcare to millions of people in the United States. However, Medicaid expansion was optional for states, so some states greatly expanded healthcare to low-income people while others did not. People in expansion states gained more affordable access to prescription drugs and treatment centers, making opioids easier to obtain and addictions more affordable to treat. This makes the effect of the Affordable Care Act on the opioid epidemic ambiguous, since it could either help or worsen the crisis, depending on if easier access to opioids or treatment has a larger effect on overdoses. In this paper, I use a difference-in-differences approach using state-level data from 2008 to 2019 to compare Opioid overdose death rates between expansion states and non-expansion states. I find significant evidence that Medicaid expansion is correlated with an increase in Opioid overdose deaths.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.