News Releases

Republicans’ replacement for ACA would jeopardize coverage for 24 million Americans, including 2.8 million suffering from a substance use disorder

Nearly 30,000 people received substance use disorder treatment in 2015 in WA because of Medicaid expansion

91 Americans dying each day from an opioid overdose

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) joined 20 of her Democratic colleagues in sending a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), calling on him not to take up any legislation in the Senate that would further harm individuals struggling with an opioid use disorder. The repeal of the Affordable Care Act could strip health care coverage from 2.8 million Americans suffering from a substance use disorder. The House legislation up for vote this week, “The American Health Care Act,” would upend coverage for the 1.3 million Americans who access behavioral health care services as a result of Medicaid expansion through the health care law. From 2014 – 2015, drug overdose rates in Washington state increased 10.5 percent and have surpassed car crashes as the number one cause of accidental death. Over the past year, Sen. Murray has met with families, health officials, and law enforcement in communities across Washington state, including Seattle, Bellingham, Vancouver, the Tri-Cities, Yakima, and Spokane, about the urgent need to address the opioid epidemic.

“Given that lack of insurance coverage and an inability to afford care often result in individuals forgoing substance use disorder treatment, this proposal could very literally translate into a death spiral for those with opioid use disorders,” write the senators in their letter to Leader McConnell. “During his campaign, President Trump promised to help individuals struggling with addiction by ‘expanding access to treatment and prevention options.’ The American Health Care Act blatantly breaks this promise.”

In the letter, the senators point to the fact that 12 percent of adult Medicaid beneficiaries live with some form or a substance use disorder, and Medicaid finances one-third of the medication-assisted treatment administered for opioid and other substance use disorders in the country. Last month, Senator Murray and several of her Democratic colleagues sent a similar letter to President Donald Trump, warning that repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with no replacement would pull the rug out from under local communities working to combat the opioid epidemic, and could endanger millions of Americans just as they are getting treatment.

The letter is led by Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), and other senators signing the letter include Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Joe Manchin III (D-W.V.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).

A copy of the letter can be found HERE.

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