The Opioid Crisis Needs Medicaid Expansion

We all know someone who is struggling with substance abuse issues and many of these victims cannot afford treatment, especially if they are one of Idaho’s 62,000 uninsured people. Medicaid expansion would allow these individuals access to treatments that would put them on the road to recovery from addiction. Too many families have experienced needless suffering due to lack of affordable treatment options in Idaho.

The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that substance abuse addiction affects over eight in ten Idaho families.

It seems that every time we watch the news or read the newspaper, there is a story about the opioid crisis–with no solution in sight. But we know that Medicaid enrollment strongly increases the odds of utilizing substance abuse treatment. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that for every dollar invested in addiction treatment programs, total savings can exceed costs by a ratio of 12 to 1. It makes financial sense for Idaho to reap the rewards of increasing access to substance abuse treatment services.

The Idaho Department of Health & Welfare reports that drug-induced deaths have increased 30% in the past five years. Yet while substance abuse treatment demand seems badly needed, Idaho’s legislature slashed funding in 2017, due a budgetary shortfall. Providers are forced to turn away people seeking treatment when funding is cut as there is no money to cover their costs.

Both county and state jails are bursting at the seams, in large part because of the criminalization of drug use. The Idaho State Department of Corrections reports that drug crimes were responsible for 22.2% of the incarcerated population back in February of 2018. Sadly, not everyone in jail even receives treatment due to limited funding. Without treatment, offenders experience increased difficulties when they are released from prison.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that Medicaid/CHIP coverage is the primary payor for treatment of illicit drug use addiction in the United States.

Our state and its taxpayers cannot continue the same path and expect different results. We can no longer afford to ignore the many Idaho families who need crucial help seeking substance abuse treatment. We need to #VoteYeson2 and spread the word about the benefits of bringing our tax dollars back to Idaho. As your Lieutenant Governor, I will advocate that Idaho must respect the wishes of our citizens–if you vote yes on Prop. 2, I will be your voice in Boise. Remember to go #VoteForTheVet on November 6th to make #IdahoStronger.