September 26, 2017

Senator Hassan on CNN Health Care Debate: “Saying that Medicaid Expansion Did Not Help Save Ashley’s Life Demeans her Journey and Shows a Fundamental Lack of Understanding of this Crisis”

Senator Graham to New Hampshire Substance Misuse Treatment Advocate Ashley Hurteau: “It’s Not Medicaid Expansion that Saved You”

WASHINGTON – During last night’s health care debate, CNN took a question from Ashley Hurteau, a New Hampshire substance misuse treatment advocate who got treatment because of her coverage through New Hampshire’s bipartisan Medicaid expansion. Ashley was Senator Hassan’s guest of honor for President Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress.

Ashley asked Senator Graham, “if Medicaid expansion is cut, what protections would there be to ensure people suffering and dying from addiction would continue to have access to health insurance coverage for treatment?” 

To which Senator Graham responded, “it's not Medicaid expansion that saved you.” (Click here for video or see full transcript below.)

Senator Hassan issued the following statement in response to the exchange during last night’s debate:

“I have been constantly inspired by Ashley's courage in sharing her story of addiction and her road to recovery, and I am extraordinarily grateful that she is continuing to speak out on behalf of the countless others across America who have struggled with substance use disorder,” Senator Hassan said. “Saying that Medicaid expansion did not help save Ashley’s life demeans her journey and shows a fundamental lack of understanding of this crisis. Ashley is living proof that Medicaid expansion and having health insurance coverage can be the difference between getting into recovery and being lost to addiction. Experts have made clear that Medicaid expansion is the number one tool at our disposal to combat this crisis, and because of it, treatment centers are expanding and thousands of people who wanted help before but couldn't get it now can. Ashley’s question gets at a critical point: the Republican health care repeal bills would have a devastating impact on our efforts to combat the opioid crisis, and that is just one of the reasons we must reject this bill.”

Click here for video or see full transcript below:

BASH: We want to get to a brutal issue that is plaguing this country and that is opioids. Drug overdoses, as you know Senators, are currently the leading cause of death among Americans under fifty -- a number that is rising due to opioid addiction. Republicans have proposed eliminating funding for Medicaid expansion, which helps pay for substance abuse treatment. I want to bring in Ashley Hurteau, a recovering heroin addict from New Hampshire. And she has a question for Senator Graham. 

HURTEAU: Senator Graham, in March 2015 I lost custody of my son and then three months later on June 11th, I woke up to find my husband dead next to me, lifeless from an overdose. My addiction was so strong and I was so sick that not even his death or losing our beautiful son were enough to get me to stop using. I ended up in jail for crimes that were fueled by my addiction and eventually got treatment through New Hampshire's drug court program, which was 100 percent covered by Medicaid expansion. So my question to you is: if Medicaid expansion is cut, what protections would there be to ensure people suffering and dying from addiction would continue to have access to health insurance coverage for treatment?

GRAHAM: Really great question. Number one: congratulations on overcoming something that is just incredible. We're all one pill away. You don't know until you take the first pill. It's not a character problem, it's just body. You never know, if you get hurt and you take a pill -- we just got to deal with it. But it's not Medicaid expansion that saved you. It was somebody who knew what they were doing who walked you through how to get better. Let's talk about $20 trillion of debt...