Recovery advocates worry opioid epidemic will get worse under McConnell's health care bill
In 2015, Kentucky saw 1,273 people died from the opioid epidemic.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Kentucky has the third-highest number of opioid-related fatalities in the country, and there is a strong fear even more people could die under House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's health care bill.
Recovery advocates say Kentucky is already in the middle of a health care crisis, and this new bill would cut billions of dollars from those who need help with addiction. The campaign to rollback Obamacare could cause an explosive impact with people suffering from America's opioid drug epidemic.
“They're dying, so it's bad. It's really bad,” said Zachary Crouch, administrator of Landmark Recovery Services in Louisville.
McConnell's health care bill, titled "Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017," would roll back Medicaid Expansion, which extended access to drug abuse treatment like heroin and mental health services.
Kentucky is one of the worst states affected by the overdose epidemic. According to the Kentucky Harm Reduction Coalition, 1,273 people died in 2015 from opioids like heroin and prescription pain relievers.
“It's the biggest killer of people under the age of 50 right now,” said Crouch, adding that addiction is highly treatable but it needs to be treated over the course of someone's life.
“It's real. It kills people. I don't understand the reasoning behind why you would want to take something like (treatment) away."
Not to mention it could also pose a big health risk and could increase the spread of diseases.
“If you're off the street and in treatment, and you're not using, you're not exposing yourself to the lifestyle, which carries along with it high risk for Hepatitis C, AIDS and all kinds of transmittable diseases,” Crouch said.
The Senate bill would start to roll back Medicaid expansion in 2021. It also proposes adding $2 billion in opioid funding, but recovery advocates say that isn't nearly enough and the rollback could not come at a worse time.
“When we're in the middle of this epidemic right now, that's killing people left and right,” Crouch said.
McConnell is pushing for a vote on the bill next week.
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