April 06, 2017

ICYMI: CNN Highlights Contradictions Between Trump's Promises Versus Action on Substance Misuse Crisis

ICYMI – Today, CNN highlighted the contradictions between President Trump’s campaign promises versus his Administration’s actions regarding the substance misuse crisis:

Key Points:

  • The fate of recovering addicts like Farmer, who voted for President Donald Trump in November, were suddenly on the line last month. Republican lawmakers tried to repeal and replace Obamacare, moving a bill that would have eliminated requirements to cover addiction and mental health services in states that expanded Medicaid.

 

  • But a major sticking point -- how to restructure Medicaid -- is certain to remain at the forefront of the ongoing debate over reforming the health care system, which Trump has suggested in tweets isn't over. The White House was still floating a proposal this week that would give states the opportunity to opt out of some Obamacare regulations including the requirement that insurers cover Essential Health Benefits such as substance abuse.

 

  • The fiasco over the Obamacare repeal is a wake-up call for Trump: the health care policies he was advocating for would have devastated some of the very communities in traditionally Democratic states that supported him on Election Day -- including in competitive states that were crucial to Trump's victory.

 

  • "People are getting hooked, and we're going to take care of those people." That was what Trump promised in 2015 as a presidential candidate. He was speaking in New Hampshire, another state devastated by the alarming spike in opioid overdoses. Trump would repeat that pledge throughout the campaign. But after Trump's election, those promises led to one of the most glaring contradictions of the Republican bill to replace and replace Obamacare.

 

Click here for the full story or see below for excerpts:

 

By the time he landed at Bowling Green Brandywine treatment center in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, Kurt Farmer was living out of his car and had overdosed twice in three weeks. He was resuscitated by Narcan, a nasal spray that reverses the effects of opioids. The drug, generically known as naloxone, is becoming a medical staple as the opioid epidemic sweeps the country.

 

One of the first things Farmer, 25, was asked to do at Bowling Green was fill out paperwork to enroll in Medicaid. The federal program enabled him to sign up for long-term treatment at Blueprints, an addiction rehabilitation center in Elizabethtown, 90 miles west of Philadelphia.

 

"If I didn't have Medicaid, I wouldn't be able to pay for this," Farmer said in an interview with CNN in late February.

 

He had a good guess as to what would have happened if he hadn't come to the center: "I would like to say I wouldn't relapse. But the chances are from past experience, if I'm not going to treatment, in a matter of a few weeks I start getting high."

 

The fate of recovering addicts like Farmer, who voted for President Donald Trump in November, were suddenly on the line last month. Republican lawmakers tried to repeal and replace Obamacare, moving a bill that would have eliminated requirements to cover addiction and mental health services in states that expanded Medicaid. Pennsylvania is one of those states. The effort failed in a spectacular fashion, with Republican leaders in the House pulling the legislation amid an uproar of opposition.

 

But a major sticking point -- how to restructure Medicaid -- is certain to remain at the forefront of the ongoing debate over reforming the health care system, which Trump has suggested in tweets isn't over. The White House was still floating a proposal this week that would give states the opportunity to opt out of some Obamacare regulations including the requirement that insurers cover Essential Health Benefits such as substance abuse.

 

The fiasco over the Obamacare repeal is a wake-up call for Trump: the health care policies he was advocating for would have devastated some of the very communities in traditionally Democratic states that supported him on Election Day -- including in competitive states that were crucial to Trump's victory.

 

… "People are getting hooked, and we're going to take care of those people."

 

That was what Trump promised in 2015 as a presidential candidate. He was speaking in New Hampshire, another state devastated by the alarming spike in opioid overdoses. Trump would repeat that pledge throughout the campaign.

 

But after Trump's election, those promises led to one of the most glaring contradictions of the Republican bill to replace and replace Obamacare.

 

Written by House Speaker Paul Ryan and other senior Republicans, the proposal would have ended the requirement for states to cover addiction services and mental health treatment in the 31 states that expanded Medicaid under Obamacare. It would have also lifted the mandate that insurers cover these services in policies sold on the Obamacare exchanges.

 

… Ten people die of opioid addiction every day in Pennsylvania. Trump won the state narrowly in November, vaulted by supporters in rural counties outside the city centers of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia -- areas that have been ravaged by the epidemic.

 

… More than 700,000 people who were previously uninsured in Pennsylvania got coverage through the state's Medicaid expansion, with around 124,000 of those individuals using Medicaid to receive drug treatment.

 

For the state's Democratic governor, Tom Wolf, the opioid scourge tops the list of things that keeps him up at night.

 

On a recent Thursday afternoon, Wolf was touring Thomas Jefferson University's Narcotic Addiction Rehabilitation Program. The center estimates that around 90% of its patients are covered under Medicaid, including some through Pennsylvania's recent expansion of the program.

 

He was closely following the health care debate that was still unfolding in Washington, wondering what would happen to his constituents battling addiction if the GOP bill to repeal and replace Obamacare were to become law.

 

"I don't know what folks are going to do if they can no longer go into a hospital and be treated for substance use disorder," Wolf told CNN. "Their only option is to go back to the way it was -- to go into the emergency room."

 

… Amanda Lasota was in Cumberland County Prison when her aunt called with the news out of Washington.

 

Republicans had promised for years to repeal and replace Obamacare, and after Trump's inauguration, GOP lawmakers were moving forward quickly with a bill aimed at gutting the law.

 

Her aunt told her that "they were trying to get rid of Obamacare and they were cutting back on Medicaid and it was affecting people that were trying to go to treatment," Lasota said. "I was scared to death that at the last minute, I was going to be told that I couldn't go to treatment because I'd lost my funding."

 

The day that CNN met with Lasota in late February, she was arriving at the Blueprints addiction center in Elizabethtown for the first time. Like Farmer, Lasota would not have been able to come to the center if not for Medicaid. Before she enrolled in the program, she was without health insurance.

 

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