In 2015, a record amount of Americans died of opiate overdoses, and a new healthcare bill may take away addiction coverage for those who need it the most, potentially leading to a vast increase in overdose deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the number of overdose deaths related to synthetic opioids alone increased by 72% from 2014 to 2015.
If the new GOP health care bill passes, starting in the year 2020, Medicaid will not be required to cover mental health and addiction treatment services in the 31 states that expanded it. These 31 states include Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia, each of which face some of the worst opioid addiction problems in the nation.
Taking away essential healthcare and addiction services may be especially harmful for low income individuals and families, as they are statistically at a far greater risk for opiate addiction. Many of the programs and services that would stand to be cut are offered in states with lower-incomes and higher unemployment rates, and it’s in many of those states that the opioid epidemic has caused the most damage.
According to researchers writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, the 15 counties with the highest rates of opioid overdose deaths are all located in only two states: Kentucky and West Virginia. Other states with high levels of poverty and opiate addiction that would lose significant addiction treatment program funding include Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Mexico.
Of the nearly 3 million people who stand to lose coverage as a result of the GOP health care bill, over 220,000 have an opioid disorder, say NYU researchers. This means that nearly a quarter of a million people will lose their insurance coverage, and probably their only chance to get clean and sober with professional help.
With heroin deaths surpassing gun homicides for the first time in American history, much needs to be done to combat the growing opiate addiction epidemic, and taking insurance coverage away from the most vulnerable populations isn’t likely to help.
America’s opioid addiction epidemic isn’t just a public health crisis, it’s a preventable public tragedy. While you may not be able to make a difference in politics, you can take real steps in your own life to fight the problem of addiction. If you or someone you love needs help, it’s time to take action. Every minute you wait is another minute lost to the disease of addiction.
At Get Treatment, we’ve committed our lives and careers to fighting addiction, patient by patient. Our directory of high-quality, professionally accredited substance abuse treatment centers provides individualized care solutions to patients in every stage of the recovery process. While no one can guarantee results when it comes to addiction treatment, we can promise that we will do everything in our ability to get you and those you love the best possible care to increase your chances of a speedy, comfortable, and lasting recovery.