April 11, 2017

Cutting, Capping Medicaid Would put Floridians with Substance Use Disorders at Risk

Florida’s drug overdose death rate increased by 22.7 percent between 2014 and 2015

Lake Mary, FL – The Florida Policy Institute (FPI) today pointed to a new Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) report showing that the U.S. House Leadership’s bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would result in a projected $13 billion in cuts to Medicaid in Florida from 2019 to 2028. Elimination of federal health insurance subsidies would cost Floridians $68 billion during the same period. The CBPP also outlined state-level drug overdose death rates and pointed to the adverse impacts that cutting or capping Medicaid would have on individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs).

After April recess, House leadership may continue to try to push through harmful provisions of the failed American Health Care Act (AHCA).

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than three out of five drug overdose deaths involve an opioid. The CDC also indicates that Florida is one of 19 states that had a “statistically significant drug overdose death rate increase from 2014 to 2015,” with a change of 22.7 percent between the two years. In 2015, Floridians had the fourth highest number of deaths in the nation (3,228) due to drug overdose.

“At a time when our state has seen an alarming uptick in the drug-overdose death rate, it’s crucial that we continue building on provisions of the Affordable Care Act, which helps struggling residents gain access to much-needed treatment,” said Joseph F. Pennisi, executive director of FPI. “The failed American Health Care Act, on the other hand, would have capped federal funding, which would limit the state’s ability to address public health crises such as what we are seeing with opioid addiction in our state.”

Florida is one of 19 states that have failed to expand Medicaid, despite the federal government picking up at least 90 percent of the cost. In those states that chose to expand Medicaid under the ACA, hospitalization rates for uninsured people struggling with mental health or substance use disorders fell from 20 percent in 2013 to 5 percent in mid-2015, according to CBPP.

Rather than cutting access to treatment for individuals with SUDs, state and federal lawmakers must take the following key steps to increase insurance eligibility and coverage for struggling Floridians:

  • Expand Medicaid for low-income adults;
  • Reject a Medicaid “per capita cap,” which would shift costs and risk to the states;
  • Reject proposals to destabilize insurance marketplaces;
  • Reject Medicaid block grants to ensure that states can provide adequate coverage to all eligible people;
  • Reject state-level proposals that would restrict eligibility or benefits for people with SUDs, such as drug testing beneficiaries, instituting work requirements or requiring excessive cost-sharing;
  • Keep the essential health benefit requirements for plans in the individual and small-group markets to ensure that substance use treatment is covered; and
  • Approve Medicaid pilot programs designed to strengthen treatment for people with SUDs.

“We must be steadfast in our efforts to continue informing state and federal lawmakers of the devastating effects that cutting Medicaid would have on Florida families,” added Pennisi.

The Florida Policy Institute is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting widespread prosperity through timely, thoughtful and objective analysis of state policy issues affecting economic opportunity.

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