During his joint address to Congress in February, President Donald Trump pledged to stop the inflow of opioids into the U.S. by building a great, great wall along the country’s southern border — but fell short of saying anything about federal policies that could reduce the demand for opioids.
Unfortunately, evidence shows stricter border security just can’t overcome drug traffickers and end the opioid epidemic. However, Trump’s plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act is most likely to exacerbate the opioid crisis since more than 20 million Americans with drug and alcohol issues gained access to mental health and substance abuse treatment under the Affordable Care Act. This Act expanded Medicaid and provided subsidies to help individuals buy insurance policies on health exchanges.
While the Republican-backed American Health Care Act would reduce the federal deficit by a total of $337 billion over 10 years, the savings come by slashing $880 billion in federal funds from Medicaid; raising the premiums for older, poor Americans by more than 750%; and leaving 24 million additional people without health insurance by 2026.
Is the government serious about fighting the opioid epidemic? Will it stop Big Pharma from creating opioid addicts for profit? Can it prevent the opioid orphans from growing up in despair? Will it make a case for legal medical marijuana (in the 13 states that passed laws allowing for the use of medical marijuana, 25% fewer people died from opioid overdoses annually)? Only time will tell.