Senate Homeland Security Report: Obamacare ‘Exacerbated’ Opioid Crisis
The Senate Homeland Security Committee released a report that received surprisingly little media attention despite its provocative assertion that Obamacare is the driving force behind the opioid epidemic.
The report was produced by the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee and claims the medicare expansion created a perfect storm for the opioid abuse catastrophe.
The Senate report notes that “those with a Medicaid card can get prescriptions for opioids, such as oxycodone, for as little as $1 for up to 240 pills. Those pills, however, can be sold on the street for up to $4,000.”
The case laid out by the report is straightforward, logical, and politically unspeakable. It’s an argument generally made in hushed tones until now, and it’s easy to see why.
Much of the opioid crisis involves prescription drugs, which can become addictive even when legitimately prescribed, and are often stolen through fraud and resold on the street.
Expanded insurance coverage was a primary goal of ObamaCare.
Two of its policies were:
- Allowing adults to remain on their parents’ insurance up to 26 years of age.
- Expanding Medicaid.
Together, they unintentionally connected at-risk cohorts…
For example, chronically unemployed working-age men and young, previously uninsured whites with an appetite for drugs.
… And it gave them the means to obtain highly addictive and liberally-prescribed pain medications at a fraction of their street price.
Critics could find no way to refute the actual data in the report. They denounced it with thunderous virtue-signaling outrage, attacked those involved in preparing it, criticized arguments it did not make – such as pretending the report claims the opioid epidemic was caused by Medicaid expansion, rather than exacerbated by it.
The combination was explosive!
Once addicted to prescribed pain pills, many moved on to cheaper and more dangerous alternatives, like heroin or synthetic opioids.
As part of an Obamacare initiative meant to reward quality care, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are allocating some $1.5 billion in Medicare payments to hospitals based on criteria that include patient-satisfaction surveys. Among the questions: “During this hospital stay, how often did the hospital staff do everything they could to help you with your pain?” And: “How often was your pain well controlled?”
Too many physicians and lawmakers struggling to contain the nation’s opioid crisis, tying a patient’s feelings about pain management to a hospital’s bottom line is deeply misguided––if not downright dangerous. “The government is telling us we need to make sure a patient’s pain is under control,” says Dr. Nick Sawyer, a health-policy fellow at the UC Davis department of emergency medicine. “It’s hard to make them happy without a narcotic. This policy is leading to ongoing opioid abuse.”
That abuse has led to a full-blown crisis. Since 1999, fatal prescription-opioid overdoses in the U.S. have quadrupled. According to the CDC, more than 47,000 Americans died of a drug overdose in 2014, a record high. More than 60% of those deaths involved an opioid. U.S. emergency rooms now treat more than 1,000 people every day for misusing prescription opioids.
Patient-satisfaction surveys are not the cause of this crisis, of course. But there is research to support some doctors’ contention that they’re making the problem worse.
The federal government cannot micromanage!
This validates one of the core concerns about politicizing medicine, or any other scientific field, by putting Big Government in charge of it. Rational discussion becomes impossible. Every analysis quickly devolves into a partisan brawl.
It requires no great leap of logic to see the connection between a dramatic increase in access to drugs and a problem driven by easy access to drugs. Yet it is evidently heretical to state that relationship out loud. That’s even more remarkable when the increased use and abuse of painkillers is universally acknowledged as a major element of the opioid crisis.
I guess we found out what was in it Nancy Pelosi, and it isn’t good. There were many warnings as we headed towards the government getting its sticky fingers into the healthcare system. Most of those warnings have all come true, such as you cannot keep your doctor, decline in quality and rise in cost of healthcare costs, and micromanagement of the doctors’ offices. The list goes on.
And now this. You cannot tell me that someone did not see possible ramifications with handing narcotics out to people on the cheap.