The Left has used its usual fearmongering tactics to try and spook Republicans out of repealing Obamacare. One tactic involves claiming that repealing Obamacare will exacerbate America’s opioid crisis. However, there is data suggesting that the Obamacare actually worsened the opioid crisis.
Here is a Twitter thread providing the following data:
The Spotted Toad account also argued in a blog post that the higher overdose rates in counties that embraced Obamacare isn’t due to economic hardship because there hasn’t been the same spike in alcohol-related and suicides that would be expected to occur if the root of the problem were economic. In another blog post, the Spotted Toad account argues that what is causing the opioid epidemic is that young people being forced onto insurance – including Medicaid – has opened the door for them to obtain prescriptions to opioid prescriptions.
Buttressing Spotted Toad’s theory is this report showing how Medicaid flooded various New York counties with prescriptions that led to opioid abuse:
An exclusive review of Medicaid prescription drug data found oxycodone painkillers flooded into New York from 2012 to 2014, including 8.8 million pills in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties alone, enough for six pain pills for every man, woman and child in the Lower Hudson Valley.
Strikingly, taxpayers funded much of the flow of drugs, covering millions of dollars in Medicaid payments. These pain pills hooked many New Yorkers and started some down the path to heroin, the chemically similar street drug being smuggled into the U.S. in record amounts by Mexican drug cartels.
Statewide, the number of pills paid for just from Medicaid reached 251 million during that same period, enough for 13 pain pills for every New Yorker. The price tag for taxpayers? More than $1 billion based on a review of pain-pill reimbursement rates.
“It’s not just a public health issue. There is a financial impact which would suggest that states should be much more aggressive in their use of this database,” said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, executive director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing.
It is difficult to determine exactly how many pills were prescribed, or how much they cost taxpayers, because the narcotic bureau withheld many details, citing privacy and public safety laws.
Additionally, according to Time, under Obamacare, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) distributed Medicare hospital payments based on patient-satisfaction surveys that asked patients if they were satisfied with how the hospital managed their pain. UC Davis health policy fellow Dr. Nick Sawyer told Time that it’s difficult to keep patients satisfied with pain management “without a narcotic.”
“This policy is leading to ongoing opioid abuse,” Sawyer said.
The Daily Wire‘s Frank Camp has explained how the opioid crisis is directly tied to unnecessary opioid prescriptions. The evidence does suggest that Obamacare’s intentions to get more people insured has had the unfortunate side effect of creating a pipeline for people to obtain such prescriptions that are fueling the crisis.
Therefore, repealing Obamacare will be a crucial step in stemming the opioid epidemic.