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Assistant Scientist

Samantha J. Harris, PhD, MPA, researches health policies and programs to improve the lives of people affected by substance use and mental health conditions.

Contact Info

Research Interests

Mental health & substance use treatment; Overdose prevention; Harm reduction; Health insurance; Medicaid & Medicare policy; Aging & health; Criminal-legal system; Health services research; Health policy; Mixed-methods research; Policy & program evaluation; Implementation research

Experiences & Accomplishments
University of Georgia
University of Kentucky
University of Kentucky

Samantha J. Harris, PhD, MPA is an Assistant Scientist in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is a health services and health policy researcher applying mixed-methods to understand the delivery of mental health services. Her research focuses on the accessibility and quality of mental health and substance use treatment and harm reduction services and the local, state, and federal policies that shape service access.

Her primary appointment is with the Bloomberg Overdose Prevention Initiative—a project supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies— where she works with an interdisciplinary team to conduct rapid-cycle evaluations of innovative state programs and policies that aim to reduce fatal overdose. Dr. Harris serves as Initiative state lead for Kentucky and New Mexico and is currently leading a mixed-methods study that aims to render an understanding of overdose risk factors and experiences among overdose survivors, a qualitative implementation study of a New Mexico law that removes cost-sharing for mental health and substance use treatment among private payers, and an evaluation of hospital bridge programs and hospital resource needs in Kentucky.

Her recent work in public health insurance examines coverage of medications for opioid use disorder in the nation’s Medicare program and in Medicaid Managed Care Organizations versus traditional fee-for-service plans. Other recent work examines federal resource allocation to address substance use in the criminal legal system. Harris has served as a co-Investigator and analyst on several NIH, SAMHSA, and privately funded projects, and has held prior fellowship placements in state and local policy organizations.

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Most recent publications

  • Harris, S. J., Yarbrough, C. R., & Abraham, A. J. (2023). Changes In County-Level Access To Medications For Opioid Use Disorder After Medicare Coverage Of Methadone Treatment Began: Study examines changes in county-level access to opioid use disorder medications after Medicare coverage expanded to include methadone treatment. Health Affairs42(7), 991-996.

    Harris, S. J., Abraham, A. J., Lozano-Rojas, F., Negaro, S., Andrews, C. M., & Grogan, C. M. (2023). Allocation of federal funding to address the opioid overdose crisis in the criminal legal system. Journal of Substance Use and Addiction Treatment150, 209064.

    Harris, S. J. (co-first), Feder, K. A. (co-first), Byrne, L., Miller, S. M., Sodder, S., Berman, V., Livingston A., Edwards J., Hartman S., Sugarman O. K., Shah H., Xu J., Raikes J., Gattine S., & Saloner, B. (2023). Attitudes and beliefs about Vermont’s 2021 buprenorphine decriminalization law among residents who use illicit opioids. Drug and alcohol dependence250, 110879.

    Harris, S. J. (2023). An Early Implementation Analysis of Syringe Services Programs in Kentucky: Barriers and Facilitators Identified by Program Operators and Local Officials. AIDS and Behavior27(4), 1248-1258.

    Harris, S. J., Abraham, A. J., & Yarbrough, C. R. (2022). Availability of Medications for Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment in Medicare Part D, 2014–2018. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs83(5), 653-661.

Bloomberg Overdose Prevention Initiative