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Beshear: ACA Replacement Must Adequately Fund Drug Treatment

Apr 24, 2017

Credit Kentucky Attorney General's Office

A group of state attorneys general is imploring members of Congress and the President to adequately fund drug treatment in any plan to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Attorney General Andy Beshear said.

The initial ACA replacement plan would have cut federal funding for drug treatment by an estimated $5.5 billion, Beshear said.

The ACA currently allows significant and critical assistance for drug treatment, providing coverage to an additional 2.8 million Americans suffering from addiction. It requires both private plans and Medicaid to cover certain drug treatment.

Beshear and the state AGs say this provision is essential in their fight against the growing drug epidemic that faces most states. Many AGs view the drug epidemic as the single greatest challenge facing their communities that are still recovering from the flood of addictive pain pills and now face a surge in drugs like heroin, fentanyl and carfentanil.

“In the midst of an ongoing public health crisis, the federal government cannot abandon this commitment to our communities,” the AGs say in their letter. “Our nation faces a drug epidemic that grows more difficult and dangerous by the hour. These drugs are causing record numbers of overdoses and are destabilizing whole communities. It is our belief that the reported numbers of overdose deaths are only a fraction of the real toll.”

The group says it is alarmed that moving to a block grant or capitated rate for Medicaid could further imperil the $7.9 billion in funding that represents 25 percent of all funding for drug treatment. The group says the loss of any form of coverage for 24 million Americans under any new proposed health plan will undoubtedly leave many Americans suffering from addiction with no means of securing or paying for treatment.

“We urge you to protect access to substance abuse treatment and maintain our partnership and necessary levels of federal funding as we work to tackle this deadly and destructive epidemic,” the group said.

State AGs who signed the letter include: Kentucky, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

In his effort to fight back against the pervasive substance-abuse epidemic in Kentucky, Beshear provided $8 million from a settlement his office secured against the drugmaker of OxyContin. The monies went directly to 15 substance treatment centers across Kentucky. From a different settlement, the office dedicated $2 million to expand and enhance Rocket Docket programs that expedite drug cases, generate significant cost savings and allow select defendants rapid access to substance abuse treatment.

Beshear is working as co-chair on the National Association of Attorneys General Substance Abuse Committee and with AG’s in West Virginia and Ohio to find solutions to the drug crisis. The office has been instrumental in numerous drug related arrests, including working with federal authorities on arresting a fentanyl dealer whose drugs killed several Kentuckians.

Story provided by: Kentucky.gov