Ron Johnson, Opioids, and the Great Obamacare Smear

Speaking of Sen. Ron Johnson, he’s also the guy peddling the theory that Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion is making the opioid crisis worse. Doctors are overprescribing opioids to Medicaid recipients, he says, and poor people are then selling them on the black market.

Now, the overprescribing of opioids is a well-known problem, and it’s been associated with doctors who work with all of the following health plans:

  • Employer-based health care
  • Medicare
  • VA hospitals
  • Individual health plans
  • Medicaid
  • Boutique health providers
  • Emergency rooms
  • Military health care
  • All the remaining doctors not associated with any of the above

In other words, the overprescribing of opioids has been associated with every possible health plan in America. But in Johnson’s world, that turns into “Medicaid expansion is making the opioid crisis worse.” Plus there’s this:

The epidemic of opioid overprescribing peaked in 2011, but Medicaid expansion didn’t start until 2014. It could hardly be a driving factor in all this. It’s true, as Keith Humphreys points out, that opioid overdose deaths have kept on rising, but that’s mostly due to heroin and fentanyl, which are black market drugs that have nothing to do with Medicaid.

But Ron Johnson doesn’t care. He bought a ticket for the Trump train, and he’s gonna go wherever the tracks take him.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

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ONE MORE QUICK THING:

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As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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