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.

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FACT:

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Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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