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Combating the Opioid Epidemic

Last Updated: 01-10-2024

Key Takeaways from the December 2023 report: The Consistently Low Percentage of Medicare Enrollees Receiving Medication to Treat Their Opioid Use Disorder Remains a Concern

OIG's Approach to Addressing the Opioid Epidemic

Addressing the opioid epidemic is a top priority for OIG. OIG's efforts fall in three areas:

  1. identifying opportunities to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of HHS programs;
  2. identifying and holding accountable those engaged in fraud; and
  3. empowering and collaborating with partners through data sharing and education.

OIG's actions in these areas advance prevention, detection, and enforcement of fraud, waste, and abuse in HHS programs that intersect with the opioid epidemic and help ensure quality care and treatment for those in need of services.

Identify Opportunities to Improve HHS Programs

Many HHS programs are involved with various aspects of the opioid epidemic, giving OIG opportunities to identify program improvements. Medicare, Medicaid and the Indian Health Service have influence over program integrity in prescription drug coverage; the Food and Drug Administration oversees new drug approvals and safety of existing drugs; and agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention award grants for education and treatment programs. Identifying opportunities to improve the effectiveness of HHS programs helps prevent waste, fraud, and abuse.

Identify and Hold Accountable those Engaged in Fraud

Detecting Fraud

To help detect fraud, OIG deploys state-of-the-art data analytics and algorithms to identify the most egregious providers for further scrutiny or investigation by OIG and its partners.

In addition to leveraging data to detect fraud, OIG utilizes all advanced investigative techniques in its criminal, civil and administrative cases.

Enforcing Fraud Laws

To enforce laws, OIG may investigate cases on its own, or collaborate with its law enforcement partners. In the 2018 National Health Care Fraud Takedown, OIG and its law enforcement partners worked together to charge 601 defendants for opioids-related fraud related to prescribing patterns and to patient treatment.

Overview of Ongoing and Completed Opioid Related OIG Studies–As of July 2022

2022 Opioid Enforcement Action

Interactive Maps

Behavioral Health-Medications for Opioid Use Disorder Viewer

Behavioral Health-Medications for Opioid Use Disorder Viewer

OAS Opioid Reviews by State

An interactive map of States' Oversight of Opioid Prescribing and Monitoring of Opioid Use

Other Resources

Congressional testimony: January 2018 Testimony, and May 2018 Testimony

HHS Top Management Challenge: Curbing the Opioid Epidemic

Podcast: Combating Opioid Abuse-OIG's Work Against the Opioid Epidemic