Health care bill puts recovering addicts at risk

Posted: Updated:
State health experts warned Monday that legislation aimed at overhauling the Affordable Care Act puts addicts trying to kick their opioid addictions at risk. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) State health experts warned Monday that legislation aimed at overhauling the Affordable Care Act puts addicts trying to kick their opioid addictions at risk. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Currently, there are about 17,000 patients in Arizona hooked on opioids who rely on the state's version of Medicaid for treatment. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Currently, there are about 17,000 patients in Arizona hooked on opioids who rely on the state's version of Medicaid for treatment. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Matthew Rich spent 15 years as a Peoria firefighter until his life and career were derailed by opioid addiction. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Matthew Rich spent 15 years as a Peoria firefighter until his life and career were derailed by opioid addiction. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

State health experts warned Monday that legislation aimed at overhauling the Affordable Care Act puts addicts trying to kick their opioid addictions at risk.

"There's not going to be any money to treat them," said Emily Jenkins, the CEO of the Arizona Council of Human Service Providers.

The Congressional Budget Office released estimates Monday showing the Senate Republican plan will cut Medicaid spending by $772 billion over the coming decade.

[RELATED: Phoenix mayor: Trump's health care act an 'all-out assault on people of Arizona']

Currently, there are about 17,000 patients in Arizona hooked on opioids who rely on the state's version of Medicaid for treatment. Money for those recovery services, Jenkins says, would be stripped away if the health care bill passes as it stands.

That would force those recovering from addiction to purchase private coverage, which Jerkins says is too costly for many.

[RELATED: Flake and McCain say they're studying Senate health bill]

To continue their treatment, Jenkins estimates recovering addicts would have to pay $8,000 on top of what a coverage plan would normally cost.

Details of the Republican-backed health proposal were released as Gov. Doug Ducey declared opioid addiction a statewide emergency. Just last week, 15 Arizonans died from opioid overdoses, according to new numbers from the Arizona Department of Health Services. There were 191 suspected overdoses that week alone.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Opioid Crisis in Arizona]

Matthew Rich spent 15 years as a Peoria firefighter until his life and career were derailed by opioid addiction.

“It doesn’t matter who you are and where you come from, if you play with fire like that, eventually you’re going to get burned,” he said.

[RELATED: Report shows highest opioid overdose deaths in AZ in 10 years]

Rich says he was able to turn his life around after getting treatment from an addiction clinic called Terros while he was on Medicaid.

Terros receives more than 60 percent of its funding from Medicaid.

[RELATED: Arizona delegation urges Flake, McCain to maintain Medicaid]

“If we want the overdoses to stop, if we want to save people's lives, it's not going to be to cut all those programs. I can guarantee you that,” he said. “It's just going to get worse.”

The Arizona Council of Human Service Providers estimates Arizona would lose $7.1 billion in federal health care funding over the next eight years under the Senate bill.

Overall, the bill would put more than 400,000 Arizonans at risk of losing their health insurance.

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