Slashing the Medicaid expansion would affect over a million Americans who’ve used it to cover mental health and substance-use disorder treatment. The original Senate bill proposed spending $2 billion to address the opioid epidemic — a drop in the bucket when it comes to addressing a crisis that is ravaging communities and ripping the heart out of our country.
After facing an outcry, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell increased that to $45 billion. But my longtime Senate colleague is, I believe, missing the point. You can’t take away comprehensive health insurance from people struggling with opioid addiction and then just throw $2 billion or, for that matter, $45 billion their way for treatment. Experts say we need closer to $183 billion over 10 years to provide those on Medicaid with treatment for addiction and to provide care for other illnesses that often affect those addicted to opioids. Americans in communities affected by this epidemic understand firsthand that the status quo is grossly inadequate. We must do more to address this crisis, not less.