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Medicaid, ObamaCare Driving Opioid Epidemic: Senate Report
New American ^ | Friday, 26 January 2018 | Michael Tennant

Posted on 01/26/2018 2:09:48 PM PST by Sopater

One of the biggest drivers of America’s opioid epidemic is Medicaid, and ObamaCare’s expansion of the program has only made matters worse, claims a new report from the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, drug overdoses were the leading cause of accidental death in the United States in 2016, accounting for almost 64,000 deaths. Adjusting for age, the rate of drug-overdose deaths more than tripled between 1999 and 2016. Abuse of opioids such as oxycodone is one of the primary reasons for this increase.

How does Medicaid play into this? For its beneficiaries, it makes drugs dirt-cheap. At most, patients are subjected to a small copayment, sometimes as low as one dollar for 240 opioid pills; in 12 states, adults on Medicaid pay nothing at all for prescription drugs. The street price of those drugs, meanwhile, can be quite high: The report states that those 240 pills could sell for as much as $4,000.

Needless to say, that creates a huge incentive for Medicaid patients to seek opioid prescriptions that they don’t need. Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that Medicaid beneficiaries are at least twice as likely to obtain opioid prescriptions as patients with private health insurance. A study by Express Scripts, a company that manages prescription benefit plans, found that nearly a quarter of Medicaid recipients have filled opioid prescriptions, some going “to great lengths, sometimes traveling across states, to find prescribers willing to write excessive opiate scripts.”

Of course, not all of these excessive prescriptions are being resold; many are being used by the people obtaining them. “Studies show that Medicaid patients misuse opiates at a significantly higher level than those with private insurance, and are at a much higher risk of dying,” writes the Senate committee. “Express Scripts put the disparity in stark terms: Medicaid recipients are 10 times more likely to suffer from addiction and substance abuse than the general population.”

This would all add up to a huge problem even without ObamaCare, but that law’s expansion of Medicaid has only exacerbated the situation, the report argues. An additional 13 million Americans, many of them with incomes well above the federal poverty level, are now on Medicaid, and today the program — which, like most government programs, was modest at its start — covers more than one-fifth of all Americans. “The United States,” declared Kaiser Health News, “has become a Medicaid nation.”

With new Medicaid users have come new opioid abusers. According to the report, “Drug overdose deaths per one million people are rising nearly twice as fast in expansion states as non-expansion states, while opioid-related hospital stays paid for by Medicaid massively spiked after expansion.” Investor’s Business Daily reports that CDC data “show that opioid overdose rates turned upward in 2014 — the year of the ObamaCare expansion. The data also show that of the 15 states with the highest overdose rates in 2015, all but two were Medicaid expansion states. Of the 15 states with the lowest overdose rates, eight had not expanded Medicaid.” Medicaid-funded treatment for opioid abuse has also skyrocketed in expansion states as compared to non-expansion states.

Likewise, opioid-related crime has shot up post-expansion. The committee found that the number of Medicaid-opioid criminal cases increased 55 percent in the first four years after expansion compared with the four years prior. In addition, of the nearly 300 cases the committee reviewed, 85 percent were filed in Medicaid-expansion states.

The report doesn’t place all the blame for the opioid epidemic on Medicaid. It also points out that Medicare and Veterans Affairs benefits have contributed to it. “But,” it says, “Medicaid is the federal program most prone to abuse, and the primary government funding source for the epidemic.”

It’s already well-known that Medicaid is bad for its beneficiaries and possibly even worse than being uninsured. That it is also a major contributor to the opioid crisis is just one more argument in favor of putting this costly, unconstitutional wealth-redistribution scheme out to pasture.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: drugwar; medicaid; obamacare; opioid; opioidepidemic
More unintended consequences?
1 posted on 01/26/2018 2:09:48 PM PST by Sopater
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To: Sopater

At most, patients are subjected to a small copayment, sometimes as low as one dollar for 240 opioid pills

In 1978 I had an Unlimited Prescription and paid $2 for a bottle of 100 every 2-3 days near the end when I had the surgery.


2 posted on 01/26/2018 2:16:23 PM PST by eyeamok (Tolerance: The virtue of having a belief in Nothing!)
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To: Sopater

No... as with all things libtard, the consequences are intended.


3 posted on 01/26/2018 2:21:31 PM PST by Common Sense 101
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To: Sopater

“Adjusting for age, the rate of drug-overdose deaths more than tripled between 1999 and 2016.”

What the hell does that mean? “Adjusting for age” how? What age group are they looking at?

They didn’t account for the fact that people who need these pain killers are more likely to be on medicaid because they can’t work, while people who can still work are more likely to have other insurance.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc all over the place.

Put this report in the round file labeled “aggravated jackassery.”

If this is the kind of slobbering idiocy that senators are hearing, no wonder they haven’t done anything right since the repeal of prohibition.


4 posted on 01/26/2018 2:28:58 PM PST by dsc (Any attempt to move a government to the left is a crime against humanity.)
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To: Common Sense 101

Exactly, when will they wake up?

If they dont get them before birth.....


5 posted on 01/26/2018 2:31:56 PM PST by T-Boy (Godspeed for our troops.)
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To: Sopater

Some of the raw comparisons should be taken with a grain of salt. People in chronic pain and/or addicted to Opiods are probably more likely to exhaust their resources and end up on Medicaid. Which could account for some of the percentile differences.

That said, selling painkillers obtained through Medicaid and VA is a problem.


6 posted on 01/26/2018 2:34:33 PM PST by DannyTN
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To: Sopater
The article fails to mention one more key fact about opioids and Medicaid.

A huge percentage of the “customers” who buy illegal opioids are also on Medicaid or are uninsured.

Fact: about 65% of Emergency Room medical bills for opioid overdose are paid by Medicaid.

In other words - Medicaid is paying for opioid prescriptions; then, Medicaid clients sell opioid pills at a huge profit to other Medicaid clients; then, both sets of clients go to the Emergency Room when they OD; then, Medicaid pays their OD medical bills!

7 posted on 01/26/2018 2:35:10 PM PST by zeestephen
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To: eyeamok

I just went to the doctor and was prescribed ibuprofen instead of hydrocodone. I was told they are ‘steering away’ from opiod prescriptions. So the people with true chronic pain are having to suffer because some people abuse them.


8 posted on 01/26/2018 2:36:52 PM PST by Cowgirl of Justice
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To: Sopater

This article is missing something obvious: A higher % of Medicaid patients than non-Medicaid patients are going to be prone to addiction. For some, that’s how they ended up in poverty.

This is NOT true of all — many folks simply run out of money before they pass on, due to high health care costs. This also misses the simple truth that if you give more people relief from pain, via opioids, you get more addicts. But, I find it rather hard to believe that in 2018 we can’t use existing database technology to drastically curtail the supply to resellers and doctor shoppers.


9 posted on 01/26/2018 3:16:38 PM PST by Paul R. (I don't want to be energy free, we want to be energy dominant in terms of the world. -D. Trump)
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To: Sopater

HHS even before ACA, but on steroids with ACA, is about more than just money. In Jan 2001 the Joint Commission on Pain Management published an article written by lobbyists that advised all medical professionals that Pain Management and Pain relief was their top priority, even above curing the primary diagnosis.

The HHS adopted this as advisory to all medical professionals and institutions participating Medicare and Medicaid.

Then, under Obama it escalated from advisory to mandatory. To get paid any Medicare or Medicaid money, to participate in any of the grants and studies, to get government for anything, the providers were mandated to relieve pain first and formost.

This included dentists, optometrists, psychiatrists as well as surgeons. Your getting paid by the government to help a person on a program, get him some pain pills before anything else.

This was not only the Obama way, it was the Bush way, it was the pharma lobbyist way, (Johnson & Johnson dude led the way). Check out 2001 to 2017. A few lonely voices argued against this policy. They did not get the headlines in the trade journals. They get no credit now. The johnny-come-latelys get the headlines and credit.


10 posted on 01/26/2018 3:17:47 PM PST by spintreebob
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To: Sopater

I remember 0bama saying something about when someone gets to be a certain age, should we spend the money to treat them and get them surgery, or do we save all that and just give them a pill instead.


11 posted on 01/26/2018 4:41:23 PM PST by ViLaLuz (2 Chronicles 7:14)
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To: Sopater

“Maybe you’re better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller.” - Barack Obama


12 posted on 01/26/2018 5:06:38 PM PST by conservativeimage.com (Lock and Load, Ready to Roll.)
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To: Cowgirl of Justice

Get a NEW Doctor,my doctor will prescribe me vicodin over the phone if I need it, which is pretty rare.


13 posted on 01/26/2018 6:35:48 PM PST by eyeamok (Tolerance: The virtue of having a belief in Nothing!)
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To: Sopater

Thanks for posting -

http://freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/3626391/posts

Medicaid, ObamaCare Driving Opioid Epidemic: Senate Report
New American ^ | Friday, 26 January 2018 | Michael Tennant


14 posted on 02/03/2018 5:30:00 AM PST by cyn
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