Since his attempt to revive Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign in the face of a crisis in the increased addiction to opioid drugs in this country fell flat, Dear Leader appeared to suggest the problem is a matter of law enforcement — a major mistake. The genesis of the issue comes from the over-prescribing and over use of opioid medication once advertised as “virtually addiction free.” Indeed, Purdue Pharma is still facing litigation from the state of New Hampshire over its advertising of Oxycontin. This, in addition to the 2007 guilty plea from the corporation for mislabeling the drug, and the payment of $634.5 million to resolve a DoJ investigation. Meanwhile, Nevada holds its unfortunate position in the top ten states when counting opioid death rates. There were 224 overdose deaths in 2014, another 259 in 2015 [CDC] related to natural and semi-synthetic opioids; Nevada’s statistics were more bleak citing some 465 opioid related deaths in 2015.
Since we probably can’t arrest our way out of this mess, in Nevada or anywhere else, the answer in the long run is prevention (better guidance for physicians and tracking, combined with better public education on the nature of opioid addiction) and treatment. And, for treatment, people have to have a way to afford it.
Medicaid has been a Godsend for many suffering through an opioid addiction.
“The authors of the report (Urban Institute) draw a parallel between the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion and spending on addiction medications, saying it has brought addiction treatment to previously underserved populations.
“What we saw was this gigantic, rapid, ongoing expansion in treatment,” says co-author Lisa Clemans-Cope. “It was particularly fast after 2014 when the big Medicaid expansion came into play. There’s definitely an effect of people getting access to treatment. That’s the primary driver of growth of spending.”
So, Medicaid spent more on treatment after 2014 – because more people were in a position to afford the treatment programs available to them. Therefore, the next time a Republican politician stands before us with plans to slash Medicaid spending, and turn the Medicaid program into a block grant lottery for the states, we might well ask: What does your proposal do to assist the states, like Nevada, deal with the treatment expenses of individuals trying to cope with opioid addiction and who are seeking assistance to make that treatment affordable.
Gee, the states are supposed to “benefit” from greater flexibility? Would that be the flexibility to choose between supporting special education children with speech and physical therapy and opiate addicts? Or choosing between the needs of the families of opiate addicts and the severely disabled? Or choosing between the needs of opiate addicts seeking treatment and women seeking mammograms and other cancer screenings? Santa doesn’t come without some expense.
Somehow the Republicans have managed to entangle themselves in their own rhetoric. We can cut taxes, expand the military, all by cutting social safety net programs, and still have money for fighting opioid addiction in this country! Santa will bring us tax cuts and another Santa will keep Granny in the skilled nursing facility, help cousin Elwood find a job in a new industry, make sure the family can get immunizations, cancer screenings, treatment for acute and chronic medical conditions, and insure that the Interstate Highway System is continually maintained.
It’s Jude Wanniski’s Two Santa Theory — a position only definable as something coming from an opiate induced delusion:
“Unfortunately, Mr. Wanniski opened Pandora’s box when he let loose the two-Santa theory. Republicans are now bound to it, whether they know it or not. As Keynes once put it, “Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back.”