Opioid Bill: Hiding the GOP Assault on Health Care
Today, the House will vote on legislation to address our country’s opioid epidemic.
But while Republicans claim credit for this bipartisan bill before the election, their full record in this Congress tells a much different story – an all-out GOP assault on health care that would have had catastrophic effects on communities fighting opioid addiction.
House Republicans have tried to strip away health coverage and explode premiums for people with pre-existing conditions – including drug dependences – by attempting to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with Trumpcare.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, under Republicans’ effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, 2.8 million people with SUDs — including 220,000 people with opioid disorders — could have lost their health care.
Media outlets relentlessly covered Trumpcare’s assault on the health care of Americans with pre-existing conditions, and below are some examples:
In 2015, more than 52,000 Americans died of drug overdoses, the majority related to opioids — far more than died from car accidents. More than 20 million Americans live with substance use disorders, leading to immeasurable suffering for individuals and families and costing our nation a staggering $442 billion in health care costs, lost productivity and criminal justice expenses.
Tragically, the American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed by the House would be a major step backward in addressing the addiction epidemic in America, and the Senate is on the same harmful path.
The passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) in the U.S. House of Representatives could have far-reaching consequences on the ongoing opioid epidemic if it passes the Senate in its current form and gets signed into law.
Potential changes to Medicaid and to rules on insurance policies could affect millions of people’s access to substance abuse treatment, according to several experts at organizations that study mental health and addiction issues. The changes could come at a critical time, as the opioid epidemic has continued to worsen. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now reports that 91 Americans are dying every day from an opioid overdose.
America is in the middle of its worst drug crisis ever.
Yet House Republicans just approved a health care bill that would, according to experts, make the epidemic even worse — by repealing Obamacare protections for access to drug addiction treatment. The bill now needs the Senate’s approval and Trump’s signature to become law.
The American Health Care Act (AHCA), the Republican health care bill, would allow states to get waivers to this requirement — letting insurers limit the scope of what they cover, perhaps to not include mental health services and addiction treatment.
The Congressional Budget Office on Wednesday released an updated analysis of the American Health Care Act, the House GOP healthcare bill, that economists and advocates said contained some alarming takeaways for the future of the fight against the opioid crisis.
While the nonpartisan CBO projected that 23 million more Americans would be uninsured by 2026 under the AHCA compared with projections under the current healthcare system, two other issues are contained within those numbers.
The newly amended AHCA keeps largely in place the more than $800 billion in cuts to federal Medicaid spending over the next decade from the original version of the bill.
It does so by rolling back the Medicaid expansion established under the Affordable Care Act as well as other changes under the law. The CBO estimates that, under the AHCA, approximately 14 million people would come off the Medicaid rolls by 2026.
And the GOP’s not-so-subtle assault on the health care of Americans with pre-existing conditions is now in the courtroom – with a court battle to dismantle these protections, putting in dire peril the health care of 130 million Americans with health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, cancer, mental illness or substance abuse – including 68 million women and girls nationwide, and millions of pregnant women.
While Republicans make health care more expensive for hard-working families – attacking people with pre-existing conditions, cynically driving up insurance premiums, and handing massive tax breaks to the same pharmaceutical companies raising drug prices at every opportunity – Democrats are calling for bold action to crack down on drug price hikes, and enable Medicare to negotiate A Better Deal to lower prescription drug costs.