Last week was not a good week for addicts.
The House vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare – could be catastrophic for those with substance use disorders. The Senate still must approve it but provisions in the House version could allow insurance companies to refuse to cover and charge higher premiums for pre-existing conditions.
If you are an addict that’s been to rehab six or seven times – each time covered by insurance because of Obamacare – you have a pre-existing condition – big time. States would have the option to waive an Obamacare mandate that prohibits insurance companies from charging higher rates to those with pre-existing conditions.
That means you are going to pay more – probably a lot more – for insurance because you have a very expensive, pre-existing condition (addiction) that has a high rate of recurrence (relapse.)
But don’t worry. If you can’t get insurance because your state opted out of Obamacare’ pre-existing condition mandate, you will be able to purchase insurance from your state’s high risk pool. Guess how much THAT will cost. Bigly.
The House plan also allows states to opt out of another Obamacare mandate that insurance companies must cover essential, basic benefits like maternity care, preventive tests and, you guessed it, substance use disorders. State’s will be allowed to set their own standards.
So, getting covered for your substance use disorder will depend on where you live and how strong the insurance lobby is in your state,
I have more bad news.
The Trump Administration’s proposal to cut funding for the Office of National Drug Control Policy from $388 million to $24 million – effectively dismantles the ONDCP – also known as the office of the Drug Czar. POLITICO reported the proposal last week, along with comments from Rafael Lemaitre, formerly a senior official with the drug policy office across three administrations.
“These moves fly in the face of President Trump’s promise to address the nation’s opioid epidemic,” said Lemaitre. “This is an epidemic that steals as many lives as the Vietnam War took during the entire conflict, and Trump’s moves remove some of the most effective tools.”
Trump strategy to fulfill his campaign promise to fix the opioid crisis was outlined in an executive order that created a temporary White House opioids commission led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
The drug commission is part of the new White House Office of American Innovation, chaired by the president’s 36-year-old son-in-law Jared Kushner, Under Kushner, the office is responsible for overhauling the federal bureaucracy.
According to a report by PBS Newshour, the commission will:
Identify existing federal dollars to combat drug addiction, including opioids;
Assess availability and access to addiction treatment centers and overdose reversal and identify underserved areas;
Measure the effectiveness of state prescription drug monitoring programs;
Evaluate public messaging campaigns about prescription and illegal opioids, and identify best practices for drug prevention.
The commission must file its report by Oct. 1. Then it will disband. No one knows what – if anything – will replace it.