05.16.17

Senators from States Hit Hardest by Opioid Epidemic Discuss Disastrous Impact Healthcare Repeal Would Have on the Fight to Curb the Crisis

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Edward Markey (D-MA) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH), whose states have been hit hard by the opioid epidemic, held a press conference today to highlight the disastrous impact that repealing the Affordable Care Act would have on this crisis in their states and around the country. In light of House Republicans passing the President Trump-endorsed American Health Care Act two weeks ago, the senators spoke out against the huge cuts to substance use disorder treatment and mental health care in the bill.

Senator Shaheen speaks at press conference with Senators Manchin, Hassan, Baldwin, Whitehouse and Markey.

Watch video of the press conference here. 

Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) said, “Candidate Trump promised many times to provide resources and treatment to states like New Hampshire that are reeling from the opioid crisis,” said Shaheen. “Unfortunately, the Trump administration has only put forward policies that would be enormous setbacks to state and local efforts to turn the tide of this crisis. The greatest threat of all comes from the so-called American Health Care Act. By decimating Medicaid expansion and getting rid of the requirement that insurance plans cover substance misuse treatment, this bill would take a wrecking ball to efforts to address the opioid epidemic. We should be building on the progress we’ve made in Congress to provide resources and treatment, not retreat!”

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) said, “The opioid epidemic is not a Democrat or Republican issue. West Virginia has been hit hardest of all by this epidemic. We need more funding to fight this, not less.”

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said, “Not long ago, I visited a little, rural town in Rhode Island that lost six people to opioid drugs in the first quarter of the year alone.  The same EMTs, the same police officers, and the same funeral parlors had to respond – to tragedy after tragedy after tragedy,” Whitehouse said.  “Their story was with me as I fought for and passed comprehensive, bipartisan legislation to help communities address the opioid crisis.  And it’s with me again today, as President Trump and Republicans in Congress push legislation to unwind a big weapon in the battle against opioid addiction and overdose.  The Affordable Care Act helps Rhode Islanders get the addiction treatment they need.  Period.  By attacking it now, Republicans are turning their back on those we should be helping, and the President is breaking yet another promise.”

Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) said, “I’ve held roundtables across Wisconsin and heard from local law enforcement, elected officials on both sides of the aisle, and people working on the front lines to combat this crisis. I have also heard the stories from families who have lost loved ones. We’ve finally made bipartisan progress on fighting the opioid epidemic, but TrumpCare will pull the rug out from under our efforts and take us backwards. The Congressional Republican proposal will force millions of Americans to pay more for less care and could put millions of people at risk of losing their health care coverage, including those struggling with an opioid addiction or other substance use disorders.”

Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) said, "Without the expanded federal investment in the Medicaid program through the Affordable Care Act, states like Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky that are already bearing the brunt of the opioid epidemic will have to find even more money in their already dwindling state budgets to aid those who need treatment. Repealing the health care law and cutting Medicaid to patients seeking opioid treatment -- some for the first time -- would be like throwing gasoline on an already raging fire."

Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) said, “I am grateful that members of the Trump Administration have discussed the severity of the heroin, fentanyl, and opioid epidemic, but unfortunately, their actions so far don’t match their words. From ending Medicaid expansion, to undermining the requirement that insurance companies must cover substance use disorder and mental health treatment, to effectively eliminating the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the Trump Administration’s proposals would pull the rug out from under those in the throes of this crisis. I will continue working to defeat this dangerous Trumpcare bill that would pull us backward, and I am committed to working with members of both parties to support those on the front lines and help save lives.”

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