DNC on Trump’s Opioid Briefing

Ahead of Trump’s briefing today with HHS Secretary Tom Price on opioids, DNC spokesperson Daniel Wessel released the following statement:

“Trump promised he’d come to the aid of communities ravaged by the opioid epidemic, but so far he’s done nothing for them. In fact, Trump’s budget proposal and the Medicaid cuts he supported as part of the Republican healthcare repeal would both make this crisis even worse. Until Trump takes real action and abandons his attempts to reduce healthcare access to these communities, anything he does is nothing but more empty rhetoric and another broken promise.”

Trump supported healthcare repeal that would hurt efforts to combat the opioid epidemic and could make it even worse.

Five Thirty Eight: “If the Medicaid expansion is phased out, which the Senate bill proposes to do, that’s a problem not only for funding treatment but also for keeping existing clinics and treatment centers up and running. Advocates and experts say that $45 billion is a tiny fraction of the money that would be needed to make up for Medicaid cuts and that targeted funding is a poor substitute for guaranteeing that addiction treatment is covered.”

Trump proposed a $610 billion cut to Medicaid, despite his repeated promises not to cut the program.

The Hill: “President Trump will propose massive cuts to the Medicaid program for fiscal year 2018, according to a budget document posted by the Department of Health and Human Services. In total, the budget proposes cutting Medicaid spending by $610 billion over 10 years. That's on top of more than $800 billion in cuts called for under the House-passed ObamaCare repeal bill, the American Health Care Act.”

Trump’s budget would convert Medicaid to a block grant, which could reduce services, and allow states to impose work requirements for certain Medicaid beneficiaries.

The Hill: “The HHS budget, which was posted online and then quickly deleted, also calls for changing how Medicaid is financed. The proposal would transition the joint federal-state program from a traditional entitlement to either a block grant or per capita cap. It would also allow states to impose work requirements for certain Medicaid beneficiaries.” 

NPR: “The budget mirrors the changes in Medicaid included in the health care overhaul bill passed by the House earlier this month… Medicaid pays for services — including personal care, shopping or cooking for the elderly, and occupational therapy and work support for the disabled — that allow people to continue to live on their own. Under the law, those services are considered optional. But Medicaid is required to pay for nursing home and institutional care. ‘We'll see a return to more people with disabilities and more older adults not having access to services that allow them to remain at home,’ says Barbara Beckert, director of the Milwaukee office of Disability Rights Wisconsin. ‘Instead, we may see people forced into institutions, forced into nursing homes.’”

Trump proposed cutting nearly $400 million from mental health and substance abuse treatment programs.

Politico: “Budget takes ax to mental health and substance abuse treatment programs. The proposal would target the federal mental health and substance abuse treatment agency with nearly $400 million in cuts while keeping funding for many initiatives aimed at fighting the opioid epidemic flat. The budget for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration cuts the Community Mental Health Services block grant by $116 million and reduces other state mental health grants by $136 million. Substance abuse treatment grants for states would fall by $73 million and public awareness programs would decline by $74 million.”

Trump and his administration have so far failed to take the opioid epidemic seriously.

Politico: “Addiction specialists and public health officials on Thursday chided Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price for belittling the use of medications considered the standard of care for the treatment of opioid addiction… During a visit to West Virginia on Tuesday, Price expressed skepticism of maintenance therapies that use milder opioid drugs, like methadone, to treat addiction… But buprenorphine and methadone, known collectively as opioid replacement therapy, are considered the standard of care for treating addiction. Specialists also noted that addiction is a chronic disease that can be controlled but not, as Price said, ‘cured.’”

CNN: “With the exception of the Senate’s final ‘skinny’ repeal bill, each GOP health care plan would have substantially rolled back the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. Medicaid now pays for one-fourth of all substance abuse treatment, up from about one-tenth in 1986. Trump has yet to propose specific legislation to combat the crisis.”


CNN: “The commission had faced sharp criticism for missing two deadlines to release this report, first in late June and again in mid-July. Trump made fighting opioid abuse—which the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies as an epidemic—a key platform in his 2016 campaign, especially in states ravaged by the issue.”