Thursday, July 20, 2017

DA candidate: Cutting health care 'jeopardizes public safety'

Larry Krasner, the Democratic candidate for Philadelphia district attorney, wrote in the Philadelphia Inquirer:
In the name of health-care reform, politicians in Washington and Harrisburg [propose] . . . "curtailing important Obamacare protections and cutting back on Medicaid — threatens the lives of tens of thousands of Philadelphians."
It also jeopardizes public safety. When people are faced with chronic health problems or a life-threatening situation involving a family member, and have no options or support, they will act in desperation. When people are unable to afford treatment for behavioral health issues because they lack insurance, the criminal justice system often becomes the only societal structure that intervenes.
Under the American Health Care Act passed by the House of Representatives in May, 1.3 million Pennsylvanians would lose health insurance and 3,250 would die prematurely for lack of it, according to a statement from Marc Stier, director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center. Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate’s proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act would eliminate federal funding for the Medicaid expansion and impose caps on traditional Medicaid. That would cost Pennsylvania more than $30 billion in federal funding between 2020 and 2026 alone, says a Manatt Health / Robert Wood Johnson Foundation analysis.
Let’s look specifically at the impact these Medicaid cuts would have. Medicaid is not just a source of health care for millions of Americans, which allows them to remain productive and to take care of other family members. It is also the source of drug treatment and mental health services for the most vulnerable members of our population, including people reentering society from incarceration.
The Medicaid expansion of the Affordable Care Act enables 160,000 more Philadelphians to receive mental health or substance-abuse treatment. According to the Mayor’s Office, almost 40,000 of them are using these services. Statewide, 140,000 people have used the Medicaid expansion for addiction treatment since 2015, the Wolf administration estimates. And nationwide, Medicaid expenditures on opioid-blocking medications such as naltrexone, which many low-income people rely on to kick their addiction, increased tenfold in 2016, according to an Urban Institute report. The demand for such treatment shows no signs of slowing down.
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