June 01, 2017

Senator Harris Meets with Patients, Physicians to Discuss GOP Funding Cuts to Battling the Opioid Epidemic

LOS ANGELES - Today, U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris met with patients and physicians at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Outpatient Center in Los Angeles. At the clinic, Harris was briefed on the Center's critical role in providing substance abuse treatment, including opioid addiction, to patients in Los Angeles, many of whom are covered by Medicaid. The GOP health care bill cut more than $800 billion from Medicaid. The President's proposed budget would cut up to an additional $616 billion from Medicaid.

Additionally, the GOP health care bill would result in 14 million Americans losing health care coverage next year.

"The Affordable Care Act has allowed institutions such as MLK to meet the needs of its community," said Senator Kamala Harris. "This center is a national example of what we can do when we collate services that range from things we need like immediate medical care, substance abuse care, and psychiatric care. We have populations of people who are young people, who are parents, who are grandparents who are impacted by opioid abuse. We have an epidemic in this country and we need to address it. This is not the time to cut back the resources that are addressing it through Medicaid and in some cases Medicare."

The Center for Disease Control estimates that more than 4,600 Californians die each year from opioid overdoses, including heroin, and that number is expected to rise. Medicaid is the largest payer for opioid treatment, and both the GOP health care plan and Trump's proposed budget would potentially make substance abuse treatment more expensive or completely unaffordable for millions of Americans.

Previously at the Center for American Progress Ideas Conference, Harris spoke out against U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session's revival of the War on Drugs and outlined how we can effectively treat the current opioid epidemic. Harris urged policymakers to treat addiction as a public health issue and to fight "not a War on Drugs but a War on Drug Addiction."