Brown at Healthcare Hearing: Graham-Cassidy Takes Away Number One Tool in Opioid Fight

Expert Witnesses Confirm Repeal will Undermine Opioid Fight

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) renewed his call for a bipartisan solution on healthcare at the Senate’s only hearing on the so-called Graham-Cassidy healthcare repeal bill before the Senate Finance Committee.  Brown entered more than 200 letters from Ohioans into the record and blasted the Graham-Cassidy repeal bill for gutting Medicaid, which is Ohio’s number one tool in the fight against the opioid epidemic.

Expert witnesses confirmed the Medicaid cuts in Graham-Cassidy would hurt Ohio’s ability to combat opioid addiction. Experts also testified that the block grant money Ohio would get in place of Medicaid would not be nearly enough to make up for the cuts.

“Don’t have to take my word for it. You can take the word of a father I met in Cincinnati, who told me that his 30 year old daughter would not be alive today if it weren’t for Medicaid. Or the mother in Youngstown, who has a son who is getting treatment today because of Medicaid. Or you can take the word of the Ohio Sheriffs I met with last week, who are putting their lives on the line to help keep Ohioans safe and get fentanyl out of our communities. They told me how they rely on Medicaid to help individuals get treatment – why on earth would we make it harder for them to do their jobs?” said Brown.

  • According to a Harvard study more than 220,000 Ohioans with addiction or mental health disorders now have coverage under the Affordable Care Act – 151,257 through the Medicaid expansion and 69,225 under private insurance purchased through the marketplace. Repeal would kick those people off of their insurance, potentially disrupting treatment services for hundreds of thousands of Ohioans as they are fighting for their lives.

Graham-Cassidy specifically targets and punishes states like Ohio that expanded Medicaid by taking money Ohio currently gets and giving it to states that did not expand their Medicaid program. This is on top of overall dramatic cuts to all states.

According to a study from Avalere, Graham Cassidy would cut federal funding to Ohio by $9 billion from 2020-2026, $19 billion by 2027 and $161 billion by 2036 – a 31% cut that the state’s budget simply can’t afford.

In addition, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the House GOP plan - which is nearly identical to Graham-Cassidy - would cause premiums to go up an average of about 20 percent next year. Some analyses have shown that this bill could drive up premiums and drive out insurers even more.

Further, Graham-Cassidy allows insurance companies to charge Ohioans age 50 and older more for their insurance. According to data compiled by the Senate Committee on Aging, the House GOP plan - which is nearly identical to Graham-Cassidy - would raise the insurance premiums of an average 60-year-old in Ohio by $1,609 annually.

Learn more about how Graham-Cassidy will hurt Ohio HERE.

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