University of South California2014-07-24 5:31 PM

Medicaid Prior Authorization Policies and Imprisonment Among Patients With Schizophrenia


To examine the impact of Medicaid prior authorization for atypical antipsychotics on the prevalence of schizophrenia among the prison population. 

Study Design 

We collected drug-level information on prior authorization restrictions from Medicaid programs in 30 states to determine which states had prior authorization requirements before 2004. We linked the regulatory data to a survey of prison inmates conducted in 2004. 


We used a sample of 16,844 inmates from a nationally representative survey and analyzed the data using cross-sectional regression. To capture the impact of prior authorization, we estimated 2 models: the first included an indicator variable for states requiring prior authorization, and a second model used per capita atypical usage. 


Evidence indicated that prior authorization restrictions on atypical antipsychotics are associated with an increase in the odds of a schizophrenic resident being imprisoned in a state. State-level prior authorization requirements for atypical antipsychotics are associated with a 2.7% increase in the likelihood that an imprisoned inmate displays psychotic symptoms, and a 1.25 increase in the likelihood that an inmate was previously diagnosed with schizophrenia by a physician. Higher state-level atypical prescriptions per capita are also associated with lower likelihood of psychotic symptoms and of prior schizophrenia diagnosis among prisoners. 


Prior authorization requirements for atypical antipsychotics, which are designed to reduce healthcare costs, are associated with greater prevalence of mental illness within the criminal justice system.This association raises important questions about whether increased costs to the criminal justice system might mitigate or offset prescription drug savings created by prior authorization requirements. 

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University of South California

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