Even more disturbing, studies cited by the CDC have found that “opioid prescribing rates among Medicaid enrollees are at least twofold higher than rates for persons with private insurance.” The CDC’s own study of Washington State showed that a person on Medicaid was 5.7 times more likely to die an opioid-related death than someone not on Medicaid.Recognizing that Medicaid can be a major source of the very poison causing the drug epidemic, some states have moved to limit and monitor prescriptions of opioids in Medicaid programs. New York, Rhode Island, Maine, and more recently West Virginia and Ohio have taken steps to curb this problem by enacting some limits on prescribing opioids.
But the problem continues. As 15 million able-bodied adults were added to Medicaid through Obamacare, the drug problem only grew worse. As 15 million able-bodied adults were added to Medicaid through Obamacare, the drug problem only grew worse.The connection between drugs and massive expansions of government benefits has been seen before. As the food-stamp program expanded nationally, there was an explosion of EBT cards’ showing up in drug arrests.
The situation reached a breaking point in Maine, where DEA agents said that it is “common practice for drug dealers to take custody of a drug user’s EBT card either as direct payment or in lieu of immediate payment.”And while there are strong scientific and documented examples of government benefits’ contributing to rising drug problems, there is not a lot of evidence that these government programs actually help to solve drug problems.
As legislators debate the specifics of repealing and replacing Obamacare, they should resist the feel-good talking point that Medicaid is a silver bullet for solving the opioid epidemic. In reality, Medicaid may be fueling the problem and may be largely responsible for starting the epidemic in the first place.If lawmakers want to address the opioid epidemic in their states, they should focus on substance-abuse treatment for those who truly need it and are willing to accept it, rather than on maintaining the costly expansion of Medicaid to millions of able-bodied adults.