Trump Must Protect Medicaid for West Virginians To Fight Opioid Crisis

Yesterday, Donald Trump claimed he would declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency, but that declaration means nothing if Trump guts Medicaid, which 180,500 in West Virginia have enrolled in as a result of the Affordable Care Act expansion program. Any cuts to Medicaid would devastate West Virginians’ access to treatment for opioid addiction. The program is indispensable for West Virginians in the throes of an opioid addiction and acts as the largest payer for addiction services in the country.

“If Donald Trump plans to take the opioid crisis seriously, he must stop pushing drastic budget cuts to Medicaid and efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and instead expand access to treatment programs for West Virginians,” said Elizabeth Renda, DNC Northeast Press Secretary. “Medicaid expansion is a lifeline for 180,500 West Virginians who gained coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Now is the time to support communities suffering from the opioid epidemic rather than gutting their critical programs.”




180,500 people in West Virginia have enrolled in Medicaid as a result of the ACA expansion program, and in 2016, Medicaid expansion accounted for 47 percent of total Medicaid spending on substance abuse treatment in West Virginia. [Kaiser Family Health, March 2016]


Medicaid cuts would hurt efforts to combat the opioid epidemic and could make it even worse. In West Virginia, Medicaid pays for nearly 45 percent of buprenorphine, a life-saving opioid addiction medication.


Associated Press: “The Republican campaign to roll back Barack Obama's health care law is colliding with America's opioid epidemic. Medicaid cutbacks would hit hard in states deeply affected by the addiction crisis and struggling to turn the corner, according to state data and concerned lawmakers in both parties… According to data compiled by The Associated Press, Medicaid expansion accounted for 61 percent of total Medicaid spending on substance abuse treatment in Kentucky, 47 percent in West Virginia, 56 percent in Michigan, 59 percent in Maryland, and 31 percent in Rhode Island. In Ohio, the expansion accounted for 43 percent of Medicaid spending in 2016 on behavioral health, a category that includes mental health and substance abuse.”


The Los Angeles Times: “That wouldn’t be enough either, but the larger problem with this approach is that it assumes that the only health problem that opioid addicts would face after they’re cut off from Medicaid is their addiction. Long-term drug abuse causes a number of health conditions, including organ damage and mental illness.”


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 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.”