Republicans’ Obamacare repeal efforts have stalled as of late. Key conservative lawmakers – including Senator Tom Cotton – have urged House Republicans to slow their efforts and work with Democrats on drafting more viable legislation. As other conservatives have now realized, Cotton sees the political peril in generating a bill that has no chance of passing the Senate, leaving the GOP’s top policy priority unaddressed. This would infuriate the party’s base while also riling the opposing who does not want to see coverage threatened for low-income citizens.
There are a number of unpopular components of the Republicans’ plan, but one in particular could have a disastrous effect on the lives of millions. Party leaders confirmed that they plan to strip a provision in the Affordable Care Act that requires medicaid to cover costs relating to drug addition recovery and mental illness. This would threaten access to vital healthcare at a time when more Americans are dying from drug overdoses than ever before. In 2015 alone, 52,000 people died from overdoses, the highest recorded number in US history. Nearly two-thirds of those fatalities stemmed from opioid abuse – which includes prescription pills and heroine use.
If Republicans have their way, hundreds of thousands of people in key states that helped secure Trump’s victory in November – including 80,000 in Pennsylvania and more than 150,000 in Ohio – would lose access to healthcare for mental illness and drug addiction treatment.
Not only is this cruel, but it would have numerous consequences stemming from the social and economic disorder caused by skyrocketing drug abuse. By picking out some of the most vulnerable populations and spurning them on their drive toward austerity, Republicans are playing a dangerous game, threatening the well-being of their constituents and the social fabric of the nation.