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.” 

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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