Fighting the Latest Threat to Addiction Services and Supports: The Graham-Cassidy Repeal Bill
Millions of people cut off from their life-saving addiction treatment.
Consumers with drug or alcohol problems unable to afford their skyrocketing premiums.
Budget crises that force states to scale back efforts to prevent drug overdose deaths.
This could be our new reality if the latest bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) becomes law.
Here we are again. Another disastrous health care repeal bill is gaining momentum, threatening the progress we’ve made in treating substance use disorders. GOP senators are rushing to make deals and strong arm undecided colleagues in anticipation of a vote this week to try (again) to repeal the ACA and make deep cuts to Medicaid. All the while, essential services for people substance use disorders hang in the balance. Drug overdose deaths are devastating our country, and consumers already face roadblocks to coverage and care, particularly in communities of color. We need to move forward to expand access to addiction services and supports, not retrench.
The Graham-Cassidy bill would allow states to waive the requirement that private insurance plans cover services for substance use disorders and mental illness. This could return us to the tragic situation before the ACA when more than one third of people with private insurance did not have coverage for addiction services and supports. People with pre-existing conditions were priced out of coverage for any illness, including people with substance use disorders who could face an additional $20,000/year on top of existing premium costs.
Even more troubling are the proposed cuts and changes to Medicaid, which would severely jeopardize the safety net for people with addiction. The end to Medicaid expansion would leave millions of low-income consumers without health care coverage or access to life-saving addiction treatment. In addition, the federal funding cuts totaling $4 trillion resulting from this bill would devastate state budgets and put pressure on states to eliminate addiction services from Medicaid plans.
We’ve beaten this back before, and we need to do it again by drawing on the resilience that drives so many people in recovery and their families. Advocates are not alone in this fight: Hundreds of medical associations and provider groups, as well as governors on both sides of the aisle have said no to this proposal because of the direct cuts to addiction services and the lack of any action to address the crisis of opioid overdose deaths.
We need to stand up, speak up and tell our members of Congress to stop risking the lives of people living with substance use disorders.