Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) took to the Senate floor Monday night to blast his Republican colleagues for attempting to pass a health care bill that, amid a spiraling nationwide opioid epidemic, could eliminate insurance coverage for thousands of Americans that depend on it for addiction treatment. Markey pointed to the GOP’s efforts to cut Medicaid funding as particularly harmful for individuals dealing with an opioid addiction (the House’s health care bill included $834 billion in reductions to Medicaid spending).
“If this becomes law, there is no Narcan for Medicaid,” Markey said, referring to the brand name for naloxone, the overdose reversal medication. “Once it’s cut by Trumpcare, it is dead. Those devastating cuts would grind the progress we’ve made in expanding access to opioid treatment to a screeching halt and kick people currently in treatment to the curb.”
Senate Republicans are working on their bill to repeal Obamacare behind closed doors, so the details of how it would effect drug users in recovery are unknown. But an estimated 2.8 million Americans with a substance abuse disorder, including 220,000 who are addicted to opioids, would lose some or all of their insurance coverage if Obamacare is repealed, according to an analysis by researchers Richard Frank of Harvard Medical School and Sherry Glied of New York University. The Congressional Budget Office found that if a version of Trumpcare that passed the House last month became law, addiction treatment services “could increase by thousands of dollars in a given year” for those who aren’t covered by insurance through their employers.