There Can’t be a Hiatus for Life-Saving Treatment
For now, the Senate Republican’s health care bill – the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) – is defeated. To many Americans, the idea of cutting their health benefits was too much, no matter the rosy picture presented by President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and others supporting the bill.
People across the country called and emailed their representatives. They spoke about the problems their communities would face if they were stripped of their health insurance, including the ever-deadly opioid epidemic. They were adamant that the BCRA was not a feasible option.
The BCRA would have significantly limited funds for Medicaid, which was expanded through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. This was the stickiest issue. For many people, ACA-funded Medicaid is the way they receive their treatment for addiction to OxyContin, Vicodin, heroin, or other addictive opioids. The ACA helps ensure that millions of people struggling with a chronic condition can get treatment.
But the battle for health care – and the lives of those with addiction – is far from over. Trump and McConnell now want the nuclear option: get rid of the whole ACA, and potentially replace it later. It sounds like a plan without a plan, and it might be harder to accomplish than they imagine.
While the BCRA wouldn’t have eliminated health care spending, it would have certainly restricted it. McConnell’s new repeal plan would leave millions of people without addiction care.
For many years before Obamacare was passed, we saw the consequences of being uninsured, particularly for those struggling with addiction. Addiction treatment isn’t a luxury or something that can just be put on hold. Health insurance can be the difference between life and death for someone with addiction – and over a very short period of time.
Those struggling with addiction don’t have the same luxury of time that Trump and McConnell have. The opioid epidemic isn’t going take a hiatus while they figure out what, if anything, to do about health care. Neither should life-saving addiction treatment.
Max Dorfman, MA
Max is a Science Writer at Center on Addiction