This Recovering Opioid User Worries that the GOP Health Bill Will Be Her Death Sentence

Meet Shelby.

On Tuesday morning, Senate Democrats blasted the draconian cuts to Medicaid proposed by the Senate health bill, highlighting the spiraling opioid epidemic taking hold across the country. The bill would cut an estimated $772 billion over ten years from Medicaid, the country’s leading payer for addiction treatment. (For more of what the Senate bill would mean for the opioid epidemic, check out our explainer.)

Among the participants in the Dems’ D.C.  press conference was a woman from West Virginia named Shelby, who, like thousands of others, depends on Medicaid for opioid addiction medication. 

“Without Medicaid, I wouldn’t have a family. Without Medicaid, I’d be dead,” she said. Shelby used opioids “from the street” for three years until she began a treatment program funded by Medicaid. “It was like someone handing their hand out to me and pulling me out of the hole,” Shelby said. “If this bill goes through,” she explained through tears, “the next time you might see my name in any paper might be in the obituary.”