Today, President Donald Trump, Speaker Paul Ryan, and the entire Republican congressional caucus are in Philadelphia to plan legislative priorities for the 116th United States Congress.
At the top of their agenda is repealing the Affordable Care Act, including the repeal of Medicaid expansion — which nearly 700,000 Pennsylvanians rely on for healthcare. In addition, 63,000 people suffering from addiction accessed drug and alcohol treatment through Medicaid. Even funding for vital treatment options in the fight against the heroin and opioid crisis isn’t safe under Trump’s plan.
I have met with people who received coverage for the first time under the Affordable Care Act and heard what it meant to them to not have to choose between insurance or paying the heating bill. I’ve held in my own arms a newborn baby suffering from heroin withdrawal. I’ve consoled daughters and sons who have lost a parent to a drug overdose. And I’ve seen the happiness of families reunited and moving forward after a loved one has completed treatment.
We cannot afford to repeal healthcare for hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians or make cuts to Medicaid — especially in the wake of this public health crisis that affects so many of our friends, family members, and neighbors.
In 2015, more than 3,500 Pennsylvanians lost their lives to the disease of addiction. In the past year, I’ve gone to more than 30 roundtables and dozens of visits to treatment centers to meet with those who are affected by this epidemic. That’s why I invited Speaker Ryan to visit one of the centers that provides drug abuse treatment options funded through Medicaid and see firsthand how the program saves lives.
My greatest fear is that repealing the Affordable Care Act will cause too many Pennsylvania families to lose coverage and that cuts to Medicaid will cut off access to crucial treatment options that are helping us fight the opioid and heroin epidemic.
People will die as a result. This is not hyperbole — access to treatment through Medicaid is keeping Pennsylvanians alive who might otherwise face overdoses or worse.
President Trump and Speaker Ryan say they want to help Americans who struggle to afford healthcare and they talk tough about fighting the opioid and heroin epidemic, but these problems require more than just rhetoric — they need bipartisan solutions.
So, help me send this urgent message to protect access to healthcare and drug treatment to fight the opioid epidemic — add your name to the petition.