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April 24, 2017

Miller, State Attorneys General: ACA Replacement Must Adequately Fund Drug Treatment

Current draft ACA replacement plan cuts federal funding for drug treatment by an estimated $5.5 billion

DES MOINES – Attorney General Tom Miller and a group of state attorneys general Friday strongly urged President Donald Trump and congressional leaders to adequately fund drug treatment in their plan to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The current draft ACA replacement plan cuts federal funding for drug treatment by an estimated $5.5 billion.

The ACA currently allows significant and critical assistance for drug treatment, providing coverage to an additional 2.8 million Americans suffering from addiction. It requires both private plans and Medicaid to cover certain substance abuse treatment.

The 20 attorneys general, many of whom view the opioid epidemic as the single greatest challenge facing their states and communities, contend the ACA provision is essential to help states fight drug abuse.

States battling the pervasiveness of highly addictive pain medications also face a surge in opioid drugs like heroin, the much more powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl, and the extremely potent synthetic opioid carfentanil.

"In the midst of an ongoing public health crisis, the federal government cannot abandon this commitment to our communities," the group wrote in a letter to President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Speaker Paul Ryan. "Our nation faces a drug epidemic that grows more difficult and dangerous by the hour. These drugs are causing record numbers of overdoses and are destabilizing whole communities. It is our belief that the reported numbers of overdose deaths are only a fraction of the real toll."

The attorneys general added they are alarmed that moving to a block grant or capitated rate for Medicaid would further imperil the $7.9 billion in funding that represents 25 percent of all funding for drug treatment. The group says the loss of any form of coverage for 24 million Americans under the draft plan undoubtedly would leave many Americans suffering from addiction with no means of securing or paying for treatment.

"We urge you to protect access to substance abuse treatment and maintain our partnership and necessary levels of federal funding as we work to tackle this deadly and destructive epidemic," the group wrote.

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