In late October 2017, President Trump announced that the rise in opioid addiction is “a national health emergency.”
“Nobody,” he declared, “has seen anything like what is going on now.”
And it’s true – we really are facing a health epidemic the likes of which have never been seen before.
Every single year, more Americans die from drugs than from breast cancer, both guns and motor vehicles combined, and even from the entire Vietnam War.
And yet, despite this national recognition of the dire circumstances the U.S. currently faces, the newly passed tax bill put forth by the GOP actually stands to make the problem even worse than it is today.
Problem #1: Eliminating the Individual Mandate
Long held in the crosshairs of the GOP, Obamacare’s Individual Mandate was one of the new tax bill’s main targets. The passage of the bill eliminated the federal requirement that all U.S. citizens must enroll in a health insurance program or face stiff fines as a result.
While some lawmakers think that removing the mandate helps further a freedom-focused market, the fallout is that a staggering number of Americans will be left without insurance as a result – 13 million in fact according to estimates from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
This is especially problematic for the addicted population since 26.9% of individuals who see the need for treating their substance use disorders don’t do so because they either can’t afford it or don’t have the insurance to supplement the costs.
And without a mandatory insurance provision, even fewer addicts will have access to the services they so desperately need.
Problem #2: Impacts to Medicaid
One of the biggest issues with the new tax bill, both with regards to addiction health and to the health of our government at large, is the potential for increasing the national deficit.
According to the CBO, the new tax bill could actually increase the national deficit by a whopping $1.4 trillion over the next 10 years. And this debt increase spells out bad news for government-funded health programs like Medicaid and Medicare.
House Speaker Paul Ryan called out these types of programs specifically when discussing which policies are set to be gutted as soon as 2018. He mentioned that among the biggest debt drivers are health care entitlements. It’s where the problem lies, hence, it’s something we should focus on.
Cuts to Medicaid and other public health programs could mean less federal coverage for addiction treatment as a whole – meaning even if someone wants treatment, they may not be able to get it.
A Rocky Future for Addiction Treatment
Big changes to addiction treatment are on the horizon. Not only are crucial state-funded health programs set to get a significant cut in the future, fewer Americans than ever will have health insurance, making addiction treatment all the more unobtainable.
And when you combine these serious issues with smaller policy changes (like a significant tax cut on commonly-abused substances like alcohol), the future doesn’t look good for substance use recovery.
But at Revive Detox, we know just how damaging a substance use disorder can be and are still dedicated to contributing to a less-addicted world. So contact us, and let’s start your journey to recovery today.
Dr. Ronaye Calvert-Conley is the CEO and Founder of Revive Detox, a Joint Commission Accredited and Legit Script Certified Addiction Treatment Center in Los Angeles, CA. She earned her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Alliant International University in Los Angeles in 2007 and has extensive experience working in the addiction and recovery field and the LGBT community. To learn more about Dr. Calvert-Conley click here.
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