Laws Forbidding Pregnancy Discrimination in Substance Use Disorder Treatment Are Not Associated With Treatment Access

J Addict Med. 2022 May-Jun;16(3):364-367. doi: 10.1097/ADM.0000000000000897.

Abstract

Objectives: To determine if state laws that forbid substance use disorder treatment providers from refusing services based on pregnancy are associated with improved ability to secure an initial appointment for opioid use disorder treatment with methadone and buprenorphine.

Methods: Ten states in which a "secret shopper" study was conducted were stratified based on whether they have a law that forbids substance use disorder treatment providers from refusing to treat individuals because of pregnancy. We tested for differences in percent of pregnant versus nonpregnant callers offered an initial appointment for medication for opioid use disorder treatment between states with a law and those without. We also tested for differences in acceptance based on caller insurance type.

Results: Four states with 1461 callers had relevant laws; 6 states with 2495 callers did not. None of the laws apply to all providers. In both groups of states, nonpregnant callers were significantly more likely to obtain a buprenorphine appointment (75.1% vs 60.1% in states with a law, P < 0.01; 73.1% vs 62.3% in states without, P < 0.01). No significant differences were found in methadone appointment access either between pregnant and nonpregnant callers or between pregnant callers in states with a law compared to those without.

Conclusions: Laws that forbid providers from refusing to treat potential patients because they are pregnant were not associated with success in obtaining an initial appointment for medication for opioid use disorder treatment. States should consider expanding those laws to apply to all treatment providers and ensure that currently covered providers are in compliance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Appointments and Schedules
  • Buprenorphine* / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Methadone / therapeutic use
  • Opiate Substitution Treatment
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / drug therapy
  • Pregnancy
  • United States

Substances

  • Buprenorphine
  • Methadone