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    Providers in Republican States Prescribe Higher Levels of Opiates Than in Democratic States

    Eugen G Tarnow  December 6 2016 09:13:23 PM
    By Eugen Tarnow, Ph.D.
    Avalon Business Systems, Inc.
    http://AvalonAnalytics.com


    AP wrote a story ( click here ) about how the makers of opioids lobby state legislatures very successfully.

    I found independently that Medicare opioid prescriptions are very strongly correlated with state poverty - the poorer the state, the more Medicare opioid prescriptions.  This presumably means that the state legislatures in poor states are easier to pay off than state legislatures in rich states.  The payoff results in opioid favorable state laws; a lack of laws limiting opioids.

    I then decided to look at whether there is a difference between parties: do states with Republican legislatures write less opioids than states with Democratic legislatures or vice versa?  

    It turns out that states with Republican legislatures have providers that write more Medicare opioid prescriptions. This is shown in the graph below.  In each of the graphs is displayed the percent Medicare opioid claims out of all Medicare claims as a function of median household income.  The red dots correspond to Republican governors and the blue dots to Democratic governors.  The lines are the least square fits to the dots.  

    In the top graph I find that states with Republican governors have more Medicare opioid claims than states with Democratic governors. In the middle graph we see that is even more so for Republican upper houses and, in the bottom graph, for Republican lower houses (I used the Wikipedia definition of lower and upper houses).

    Image:Providers in Republican States Prescribe Higher Levels of Opiates Than in Democratic States

    This result is not obvious.  Below are the same graphs for the murder rate.  It is a lot less sensitive to the median household income and the variation with party is not as consistent.

    Image:Providers in Republican States Prescribe Higher Levels of Opiates Than in Democratic States

    A one-way ANOVA showed that there was a significant difference between Democrat and Republican Lower Houses for opioids (F=16.7, p<0.001) but not for the murder rate (p=0.8), Upper Houses for opioids (F=4.6, p=0.015) but not for the murder rate (p=0.67), Governor for opioids (F=4.23, p=0.045) but not for the murder rate (p=0.58).
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