GOP's Health Care Rollback Collides with the Opioid Epidemic - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

GOP's Health Care Rollback Collides with the Opioid Epidemic

Posted: Updated:
Paul Wright shows a picture of himself in the hospital after a near fatal overdose in 2015, Thursday, June 15, 2017, at the Neil Kennedy Recovery Clinic in Youngstown, Ohio. (Photo: AP) Paul Wright shows a picture of himself in the hospital after a near fatal overdose in 2015, Thursday, June 15, 2017, at the Neil Kennedy Recovery Clinic in Youngstown, Ohio. (Photo: AP)

WASHINGTON (AP)- The Republican campaign to roll back former President Barack Obama's health care law is colliding with the opioid epidemic. Medicaid cutbacks would hit hard in states deeply affected by the addiction crisis and struggling to turn the corner, according to state data and concerned lawmakers in both parties.
    
The central issue is that the House health care bill would phase out expanded Medicaid, which allows states to provide federally backed insurance to low-income adults previously not eligible. Many people in that demographic are in their 20s and 30s and dealing with opioid addiction. Dollars from Washington have allowed states to boost their response to the crisis, paying for medication, counseling, therapy and other services.
    
According to data compiled by The Associated Press, Medicaid expansion accounted for 61 percent of total Medicaid spending on substance abuse treatment in Kentucky, 47 percent in West Virginia, 56 percent in Michigan, 59 percent in Maryland, and 31 percent in Rhode Island. In Ohio, the expansion accounted for 43 percent of Medicaid spending in 2016 on behavioral health, a category that includes mental health and substance abuse.
    
Those states accepted the Medicaid expansion and represent a cross-section of places hardest hit by the overdose epidemic, which claimed more than 52,000 lives nationwide in 2015. Of the deaths, more than 6 in 10 were due to opioids, from prescription pain relievers like oxycodone to street drugs like heroin and an elephant tranquilizer.
    
Tracy Plouck, Ohio's director of mental health and addiction services, said Medicaid expansion dollars from Washington have allowed her state to redirect its own resources to priorities like providing recovery housing after detox. Reversing that would have real consequences for people who are trying to straighten their lives out. "If you go back into an environment where people are using, that sets you up with a risk that's nearly insurmountable," Plouck said.
    
In Youngstown, Ohio, factory mechanic Paul Wright credits sustained help from Medicaid with his survival after he nearly died from a heroin overdose. Wright said he had started using as a teenager and has been drug-free now for 18 months. Before Medicaid expanded, his father's health insurance would pay for detox, but not for long-term treatment. Wright would relapse. With Medicaid, he's been able to get follow-up.
    
"It's truly sad, but I've been to many funerals since I've been clean," said Wright, who's in his mid-20s. "I just think Medicaid - honestly - it saves people." And he's able to work.
    
The GOP health care bill would end the extra funding states get through expanded Medicaid in 2020, and place a limit on overall federal spending for the program in the future. People already covered like Wright would be grandfathered in as long as they continue to meet eligibility requirements. But that's no comfort to Carolyn Givens, who runs the Neil Kennedy Recovery Center, where Wright gets help.
    
"If somebody could say to me, 'Carolyn, the crisis is going to be over next week,' I'd feel OK - but I got 40 people on a waiting list," Givens said.
    
Medicaid cuts have become a major sticking point in the Senate for the GOP's American Health Care Act. Republican leaders can only afford to lose two votes, and several GOP senators from hard-hit states have been critical. At a recent budget hearing, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price defended the Trump administration and raised questions about how much difference Medicaid actually makes.
    
The HHS budget for the opioid crisis is more than three times greater than two years ago, $811 million versus $245 million, Price said. That reflects increases approved by Congress beyond what Medicaid spends.
    
Questioned by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., about the consequences of reducing Medicaid's commitment, Price responded that more government spending is not the answer.
    
"Let me respectfully suggest...that the programs that are out there by and large are not working," Price said. "We are losing more Americans today than we did last year...clearly we're moving in the wrong direction."
    
Price suggested that states would be more effective with greater flexibility promised by the GOP plan for Medicaid.
    
Said Leahy: "As a child I believed in the tooth fairy, but I'm a little bit older now."
    
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., said it's too early to expect a turnaround in the epidemic. "The resources are just getting to the communities," she said.
    
In New Hampshire, "we're just beginning to see the benefits of having the expansion of Medicaid to provide treatment for people," Shaheen added. "We're just beginning to see a pipeline that's developed because there is some certainty around payments."
    
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., wasn't convinced either. "I'm having trouble, as many of us are, reconciling your stated goal (about the opioid crisis) being one of your top three priorities with these dramatic cuts, particularly in this area, where the problem is getting larger," she said to Price during the hearing.
    
Cutting financing for the Medicaid expansion "would create an unsustainable financial obligation" for West Virginia, said Allison Adler, a spokeswoman for the state's health department.
    
Back in Youngstown, recovering addict Niki Campana says "it's like the apocalypse around here." Campana is helping other women with drug problems.
    
"I work with a lot of girls that struggle," she said at the Kennedy treatment center. "We can get them on Medicaid in a day and get them in treatment. For that not to be able to happen, that would be horrible."
    

  • Delmarvawide NewsDelmarvawide NewsMore>>

  • Trial Nears for Alleged Leader of Delaware Criminal Network

    Trial Nears for Alleged Leader of Delaware Criminal Network

    Wednesday, August 23 2017 4:48 AM EDT2017-08-23 08:48:13 GMT
    Wednesday, August 23 2017 4:48 AM EDT2017-08-23 08:48:13 GMT
    Steven Kellam (Photo: Delaware State Police)Steven Kellam (Photo: Delaware State Police)
    A judge is holding a final case review in the prosecution of the alleged ringleader of an organized crime gang that operated in central and southern Delaware.More
    A judge is holding a final case review in the prosecution of the alleged ringleader of an organized crime gang that operated in central and southern Delaware.More
  • Queen Anne's Co. Hosting Tornado Recovery Town Hall

    Queen Anne's Co. Hosting Tornado Recovery Town Hall

    Wednesday, August 23 2017 3:30 AM EDT2017-08-23 07:30:21 GMT
    Wednesday, August 23 2017 3:30 AM EDT2017-08-23 07:30:21 GMT
    In the wake of an EF2 tornado in Queen Anne's County in July, the county is hosting a town hall meeting Wednesday to determine how the recovery process is going.More
    In the wake of an EF2 tornado in Queen Anne's County in July, the county is hosting a town hall meeting Wednesday to determine how the recovery process is going.More
  • Riverdale Man Arrested for Dover Robbery

    Riverdale Man Arrested for Dover Robbery

    08/22/2017 21:41:00 -04:002017-08-23 01:41:00 GMT
    Tuesday, August 22 2017 9:42 PM EDT2017-08-23 01:42:44 GMT
    Micah CosbyMicah Cosby
    DOVER, Del.- A Riverdale man was arrested for the robbery of a TD Bank in Dover on Monday, according to Dover Police. Officials said 34-year-old Micah Cosby gave the teller of the bank on North DuPont Highway a note that demanded money.More
    A man from Riverdale, Maryland was arrested for the robbery of a TD Bank in Dover on Monday, according to Dover Police.More
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Neighbors React to Easton Recovery Home

    Neighbors React to Easton Recovery Home

    Tuesday, August 22 2017 5:27 PM EDT2017-08-22 21:27:16 GMT
    Tuesday, August 22 2017 5:27 PM EDT2017-08-22 21:27:16 GMT
    It's a small and quiet blue house - but it's caused quite the uproar.More
    It's a small and quiet blue house - but it's caused quite the uproar.More
  • Scheduled Jet to Land at Salisbury Airport Tuesday

    Scheduled Jet to Land at Salisbury Airport Tuesday

    08/22/2017 15:59:00 -04:002017-08-22 19:59:00 GMT
    Tuesday, August 22 2017 3:59 PM EDT2017-08-22 19:59:10 GMT
    The first scheduled jet will land in Salisbury, Maryland on Tuesday night.More
    The first scheduled jet will land in Salisbury, Maryland on Tuesday night.More
  • Pocomoke Man Leads Deputy on Brief Chase

    Pocomoke Man Leads Deputy on Brief Chase

    Tuesday, August 22 2017 5:50 PM EDT2017-08-22 21:50:55 GMT
    Tuesday, August 22 2017 5:50 PM EDT2017-08-22 21:50:55 GMT
    A Dover woman was arrested after providing officers with a fake name.A Dover woman was arrested after providing officers with a fake name.
    SNOW HILL, Md.- A Pocomoke man has been arrested after a brief pursuit on Friday.According to the Worcester County Sheriff's Office, a deputy attempted to stop 36-year-old Tremayne Rogers for speeding on Route 113 near Snow Hill.Rogers failed to stop, anMore
    SNOW HILL, Md.- A Pocomoke man has been arrested after a brief pursuit on Friday.According to the Worcester County Sheriff's Office, a deputy attempted to stop 36-year-old Tremayne Rogers for speeding on Route 113 near Snow Hill.Rogers failed to stop, anMore
  • Most Popular VideosMost Popular VideosMore>>

  • Neighbors React to Easton Recovery Home

    Neighbors React to Easton Recovery Home

    The Humble House has some neighbors like Michael Engels more than just worried.

    "The last thing I want to do is to find out there's a halfway house within walking distance from where my children will be playing and living," Engels said.

    Upset with what's just down the street, Engels says he's considering moving.

    More

    The Humble House has some neighbors like Michael Engels more than just worried.

    "The last thing I want to do is to find out there's a halfway house within walking distance from where my children will be playing and living," Engels said.

    Upset with what's just down the street, Engels says he's considering moving.

    More
  • Scheduled Jet to Land at Salisbury Airport Tuesday, Part 3

    Scheduled Jet to Land at Salisbury Airport Tuesday, Part 3

    It took more than two decades to get to the Salisbury Wicomico Airport to where it is. WBOC's Chris Weimer spoke with former airport manager Bob Bryant about the history of the airport's expansion.

    More

    It took more than two decades to get to the Salisbury Wicomico Airport to where it is. WBOC's Chris Weimer spoke with former airport manager Bob Bryant about the history of the airport's expansion.

    More
  • Law Enforcement Warns Against the Use of Dirt Bike's on Salisbury's Streets

    Law Enforcement Warns Against the Use of Dirt Bike's on Salisbury's Streets

    Law enforcement warns against the dangers of dirt biking on public streets.

    With the warmer weather, police said they have seen an uptick in dirt biking throughout Salisbury.

    Lieutenant Jason King from the Salisbury Police Department said, "A lot of times they aren't paying attention to traffic on the roadway and people who may be walking in neighborhoods and its just not safe to do those kind of things."

    More

    Law enforcement warns against the dangers of dirt biking on public streets.

    With the warmer weather, police said they have seen an uptick in dirt biking throughout Salisbury.

    Lieutenant Jason King from the Salisbury Police Department said, "A lot of times they aren't paying attention to traffic on the roadway and people who may be walking in neighborhoods and its just not safe to do those kind of things."

    More
Powered by Frankly

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 WBOC. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices