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This blog is part of a series to highlight the dangers of repealing the Affordable Care Act. Multiple times a week, Community Catalyst will highlight a different constituency to draw attention to the benefits the ACA has afforded them and to outline what a loss of coverage would mean.
Given the devastating toll the opioid epidemic is having on our communities, the promise from congressional Republicans and President-elect Trump to repeal the Affordable Care Act would hardly Make America Great Again. Repeal would gut programs that provide prevention and treatment of substance use disorders. The costs in dollars and lives would be, to put it lightly, HUGE!
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has literally been a lifesaver for people with substance use disorders:
Proposed changes to Medicaid financing could also deal a harsh blow to services addressing the problematic use of drugs and alcohol. Block granting and per capita caps – both being considered by congressional Republicans and Rep. Tom Price, the president’s nominee to oversee the federal Department of Health and Human Services, – would force states to do more with less. This could mean:
Even if they have insurance coverage, access to care remains a big barrier for people with substance use disorders. This is sometimes because of stigma but also due to a shortage of providers. The ACA has added or expanded services for substance use and mental illness in hundreds of health centers nationwide. The ACA also established the Health Home model in Medicaid for people with chronic conditions, including substance use disorders. This approach integrates behavioral health with primary care and much-needed family and community based supports.
The ACA also provides for all screening, including for substance use, at no cost to the consumer. Losing this provision would add another barrier to people getting care early before their substance misuse has progressed to costly addiction.
More than once, Candidate Trump asked the American people “What do you have to lose?” For people with substance use disorders, the answer is “too much.” Repealing the gains of the Affordable Care Act with no replacement plan would cause millions of vulnerable Americans to suffer “hugely.”