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Cure for Maine’s Opioid Crisis Starts with Health Insurance Coverage

Press Statement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 10, 2017

CONTACT: Emily Brostek, Executive Director, (207) 778-1059; ebrostek@mainecahc.org

Cure for Maine’s Opioid Crisis Starts with Health Insurance Coverage

Statement of Emily Brostek, executive director of Consumers for Affordable Health Care in response to today’s visit by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price

Maine’s drug crisis is taking a tremendous toll on our communities. It’s devastating to watch family, friends, and neighbors battle addiction. Too many young people lack hope, too many adults are losing their ability to work and be productive, and too many people with substance use disorder are unable to find or afford treatment.

We appreciate Secretary Price’s interest in hearing from people on the front lines of the opioid epidemic in Maine. We hope he now better understands the extreme need for federal investments in prevention, harm reduction, and treatment to help reverse this epidemic that is devastating Maine families and communities.

Now it’s time for the Trump administration and Congress to connect the dots between health insurance and the opioid crisis. We aren’t going to solve the opioid crisis by making it even harder to get or keep health insurance.  Insurance coverage is actually one of the lowest hanging fruits for helping more people get into treatment. Congress and the administration need to keep their eye on this ball as they debate changes to the ACA.

We need to invest in more local treatment options so folks can stay in their communities and near their families. We need more after-school mentoring and internship programs so youth feel supported and know adults in the community are behind them. And we need to create more opportunities for everyone to get insurance coverage.

We are extremely concerned about the very real and dangerous implications of the Ryan/Trump plan that was passed by House Republicans last week and supported by Representative Bruce Poliquin. This fast-tracked legislation continues to do almost everything that most Americans strongly oppose – no more coverage for pre-existing conditions; no more essential health benefits; and no more cost protections for seniors. It won’t make things better; it will create chaos in the system, rip away health coverage for tens of thousands of people in Maine, and make it harder for individuals, small business owners, family doctors, and our rural hospitals to make ends meet.

The implications of the House bill on Maine are staggering. People between 50 and 64 years old will see premiums increases of $2,256 while their tax credits will drop by $3,641. For all Mainers the average tax credit will decrease by $2,549 while the 229,000 non-elderly individuals with pre-existing conditions will be left unprotected under the new health care bill.

We hope Secretary Price has learned more about Maine today, and that he will do everything in his power to ensure Maine people can get the resources and the insurance coverage we need to put an end to the opioid epidemic that is overwhelming our families and communities.

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