A new report, from the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee claims that Obamacare's major Medicaid expansion is helping to fuel the disastrous opioid epidemic that's currently raging through American's heartland.
According to the report, available from the Committee's website, Medicaid users can get opioid prescriptions for as many as 240 pills — prescriptions they may pay no more than a dollar for (if they pay for the prescription at all). Many of those on Medicaid then turn around and sell extra medication on the black market, where they can make a significant profit for drugs like Oxycontin and its generic cousin, oxycodone.
One report claims those same 240 pills could net a seller around $4,000.
Not all Medicaid users — or even a significant portion — are actively conducting their own drug trade, but the Committee points out that Obamacare was designed to greatly expand the Medicaid program, so that more, higher-income people have access to a fully government-operated health care program.
By the Committee's estimate, Medicaid enrollment has grown by around 133% since 2014, and much of that because most state-based Obamacare exchanges offer only a public option. Private health insurance companies have found providing individual plans, with all the Obamacare requirements included, cost prohibitive.
Obamacare also encouraged states to enroll people in Medicaid rather than provide them a suitable public-private option. For each new Medicare enrollee, the federal government assumed 50% of that person's cost. As a result, 13 million more Americans are now enrolled in the program long-term.
That also means drug fraud cases are on the rise — by 55%, according to Investors Business Daily — and more than 80% of Medicaid-opioid fraud cases "turned up by investigators were in Medicaid expansion states."
It's probably no surprise that, according to IBD, opioid use ticked up in 2014, the first time many of these states expanded their Medicaid rolls.
Part of the bipartisan budget plan passed Wednesday, includes a new task force assigned to curbing Medicare waste and fraud as it pertains to opioid abuse, and officials say it will work hand-in-hand with the National Institute of Health's new opioid task force, which is also looking for ways to restrict unfettered access to opioid medications.