Author: Justin Mckibben
The new Trumpcare plan, formally known as the American Health Care Act or AHCA was announced this Monday March 6th. This Trumpcare bill is the Republican Party’s long awaited plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Since day one of the announcement we have seen quite a few varying opinions as to what this means for the people who were previously covered, and what it means for how healthcare altogether might change. Needless to say, not that much of the talk has been optimistic. As details emerge about Trumpcare some have become increasingly worried about the impact it will have on access to treatment for substance use disorder, especially for low-income Americans.
So what some are officials and experts saying about Trumpcare, and what it might mean for Americans struggling with addiction?
Early Predictions on Trumpcare
According to some early reports, 6-10 million Americans will lose health insurance. Not only that, millions of people in desperate need of help could be cut off from access to addiction treatment as a result of the bill.
In fact, according to one analysis, approximately 2.8 million people living with substance use disorder will lose some or all of their health insurance coverage if Obamacare is repealed. This conclusion comes from:
- Harvard health economist Richard Frank
- Sherry Glied, Dean of the Wagner School of Public Service at NYU
The publication The Hill reported in January that Frank and Glied predict that the federal government’s 21st Century Cures Act creates a recent investment of $1 billion to tackle opioid abuse. However, they state this provision would be- “squandered if the new Congress rolls back recent gains in the quality and level of substance use and mental health insurance coverage generated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010.”
Surely this is all “fake news” and “alternative facts” right?
Not so much. According to reports from the Washington Post Thursday, House Republicans admitted, after questioning by Massachusetts Democratic Representative Joe Kennedy III, that their the Trumpcare plan to repeal-and-replace would- “remove a requirement to offer substance abuse and mental-health coverage that’s now used by at least 1.3 million Americans.”
How does this happen? By attacking the expansion of Medicaid and the ‘essential benefits’ states are required to provide for.
Trumpcare Impact on Medicaid
Trumpcare’s plan to roll back Medicaid and health insurance tax credits are pretty distressing aspect of this reform. For all the Americans who rely on government assistance for addiction treatment this is a pretty huge deal.
Addiction treatment in the past is notably impacted by Medicaid. According to Truven Health Analytics, Medicaid was the second largest payer for addiction treatment, after state and local programs, in 2014.
Starting in 2020, Trumpcare is set to:
- Freeze Medicaid enrollment
- No longer require Medicaid to cover essential health benefits like addiction treatment
What is the point? To make it so the federal government pays less for Medicaid over time by shrinking coverage.
So if this is all the case, it is a terrifying reality. In a time when more Americans than ever desperately need addiction treatment, in the midst of an opioid epidemic that is tearing families and communities apart, the government’s Trumpcare plan stands to save money by stripping addiction resources from those relying on Medicaid?
Representative Kelly and Peter Welch, Democratic Representative from Vermont, attempted to amend the bill to restore the federal mandate for those ‘essential benefits’ but were voted down. Kenny is popularly quoted in the news recently for his statement,
“There is no mercy in a country that turns their back on those most in need of protection: the elderly, the poor, the sick, and the suffering. There is no mercy in a cold shoulder to the mentally ill… This is not an act of mercy — it is an act of malice.”
While Trump’s comments say he wants to give states “flexibility” with Medicaid to make sure no one is left out, many believe this is just adding the idea of paying more for less.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer vows to lead efforts to defeat Trumpcare, stating he believes it will “Make America Sick Again” and believes that it will create more drug addicts. In a report from The Hill Schumer attacks the bill saying,
“To make matters worse, this sham of a replacement would rip treatment away from hundreds of thousands of Americans dealing with opioid addiction, breaking the President’s word that he would expand treatment, not cut it.”
This is continuously troubling. When it comes to the fight against addiction, President Trump’s administration seems to be more focused on borders and “law and order” than providing resources. Trump did promise to work on creating more coverage options, but all the action taking place almost points the opposite direction.
Trumpcare Impact on Treatment Providers
This chain reaction wouldn’t just hurt those who need insurance by denying them coverage. Experts say Trumpcare also has the capacity to do damage to the treatment providers themselves.
Keith Humphreys, a drug policy expert at Stanford University, points out this issue directly. Humphreys notes that treatment providers, which tend to be small businesses in many parts of the country, may find it difficult to stay in business if clients lose coverage for addiction treatment. If less people are able to get coverage, less people will be able to get treatment. At the same time even bigger treatment providers could have trouble because it still has the capacity to reduce reimbursement rates for treatment services.
Thus, Trumpcare could affect both the supply and quality of treatment. In one interview Humphreys states,
“Most providers are small, mono-business entities that can’t absorb costs elsewhere in their care systems,”
“While hospitals will not go broke if poor people get less oncology care coverage, many [substance use disorder] treatment agencies will.”
But it isn’t just Democrats or University Professors or addiction experts speaking out. The AARP, the American Hospital Association, and the American Medical Association voice opinions against the overhaul of the ACA and the potential harm Trumpcare could do.
Even Republicans are speaking out against the danger that Trumpcare poses to addiction. Ohio Governor John Kasich is vocal with his own opposition to the bill saying,
“[Trumpcare] unnecessarily puts at risk our ability to treat the drug-addicted mentally ill and working poor who now have access to a stable source of care.”
Not to say that healthcare was ever perfect. It is noted by many doctors in the addiction field, as well as politicians and other experts, that there is already a treatment deficit. Approximately 10% of America’s population has what could be considered a substance use disorder, and only 13% of those people ever get treatment.
However, the miles of red tape Trumpcare might wrap around them could cut that number drastically. So even if these are unintended consequences, they are very real consequences just the same.
Obamacare was far, far from perfect. This is absolutely true. But is Trumpcare the best answer we can come up with?
As it now stands, Trumpcare may take so much away from those struggling with addiction and mental health that some experts are calling it dangerous. Having safe, effective and comprehensive treatment resources for these issues is extremely important to the preservation of life and the future of America. This is a matter of life and death. It is not the time for an ‘anything but Obamacare’ mentality… if the government expects a better plan, they need to make it happen. How about we put a hold on spending billions on border walls and expanding the nuclear program, and instead focus on healing Americans who need it most.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, think about who you want to be working with to find a real solution. Please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Many months back, when President Trump was still on the campaign trail, he was asked about the opioid epidemic in America during a Q&A in Ohio. He said the solution was about cutting it off at the source through the southern border. President Trump continues this narrative in a more recent solo press conference, suggesting the United States is becoming a “drug infested nation,” and he added,
“Drugs are becoming cheaper than candy bars.”
So what is President Trump’s plan to fight addiction, and will it help addicts?
President Trump on Cartels
By now we all know President Trump believes there is a direct correlation between the drug epidemic in America and what he calls an epidemic of illegal immigration. In the past he has pointed to the infamous border wall as the answer to cutting off the heroin trade into America, which he seems to believe is the primary source of the problem. During his press conference he adds,
“We’ve ordered the Department of Homeland Security and Justice to coordinate on a plan to destroy criminal cartels coming into the United States with drugs,”
President Trump went on to say,
“We have begun a nationwide effort to remove criminal aliens, gang members, drug dealers and others who pose a threat to public safety.”
To be fair, we must acknowledge the relevance of cartels in the drug trade. Since the 90’s some statistics show that the primary supplier of heroin to North America is pretty consistently Latin America and Mexico.
However, to believe that Mexican cartels are the only element of the opioid epidemic is a mistake we can’t afford to make. And blaming an entire country for drug dealers and gangs is a bit out of step with the history of drugs and gang violence in America. While it cannot be denied that Mexican cartels have a role in all this, solving the addiction problem is a lot bigger than that. Besides the fact that heroin is not only from Mexico, heroin is definitely not the only problem.
President Trump on China
For example, what do you know about fentanyl? That is, the incredibly dangerous opiate that has created such a overwhelming panic as a result of steep spikes in overdoses and deaths. Did you know it originates from Chinese suppliers?
According to some lobbyists, there are some clues that could imply President Trump plans to prosecute drug traffickers and close shipping loopholes that include drugs coming in from China and other areas.
So far, however, there isn’t much mention out there about these ideas. It seems the majority of the statements being made openly are singling out Mexico. It might be time to talk more on these other areas they plan on addressing. There is some value to stopping these dangerous drugs from getting here, but we also have plenty of problems here already.
President Trump on Opioid Epidemic
President Trump did release details during his campaign about his intentions for taking on the opioid epidemic, stating he plans to:
- Increase Naloxone access- the opiate overdose medication
- Encourage state and local governments to provide treatment options
- Speed FDA approval for abuse-deterrent painkillers
Yet some people are concerned because there hasn’t been much more talk about this since late in the campaign trail. President Trump has referenced a move to expand access to drug courts and raise the cap on how many patients that doctors can prescribe medication-assisted treatments. These may be very effective strategies for providing multiple opportunities for exposing addicts to recovery. But we aren’t hearing enough about those either. When the subject comes up, we should hope for more accurate information to know if addicts will get this help, instead of hearing about immigration.
Again, many still want the President to talk more openly about the contribution made by Big Pharma and prescription drugs to the issue, specifically concerning the opiate epidemic. We can only blame so much of our problems on outside influence. We have to hold our own drug companies accountable.
President Trump and Big Pharma
Trump did say throughout his campaign he would be fighting the Big Pharma companies in order to get rid of outrageous price-gouging on medications. He made a statement at one point that,
“Pharma, pharma has a lot of lobbies and a lot of lobbyists and a lot of power and there’s very little bidding on drugs,”
“We’re the largest buyer of drugs in the world and yet we don’t bid properly and we’re going to start bidding and we’re going to save billions of dollars.”
This much isn’t off base. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, drug companies and their industry allies spent more than $186 million lobbying for their interests in a year, and $1.12 billion since 2012.
Yet, the Republican Party did a great deal in 2003 under President George W. Bush to prevent federal government from interfering in negotiations between drug companies and pharmacies that participate in taxpayer-funded Medicare Plan D prescription drug benefits.
Hopefully, having a Republican Congress that isn’t constantly at odds with their President will help things move along easier; especially concerning healthcare reforms. So beyond making drugs cheaper, the question becomes what can we do about preventing dangerous and addictive drugs from getting even more out of control.
ACA and CARA
With healthcare reform, many addiction recovery advocates insist that the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) should be a priority. Many say the CARA is the most significant federal legislation pertaining to addiction in years. Still, it does not include a specific allowance of funding for the programs it has created.
Once CARA is funded, more programs will be put in place to help fight addiction. Without the funds it is a Cadillac with no engine or wheels.
Then there is the major point President Trump ran on; repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This action could eliminate coverage for many Americans in recovery who had previously been uninsured. Specifically, if the government repeals the ACA without a plan to replace it or to maintain coverage for those depending on it. If President Trump and the GOP come up with a program to replace it, we may still avoid this tragedy. Still, as it stands, the idea makes plenty of people nervous.
For instance, Medicaid, the federal-state insurance for low-income people, payed for about $60 billion worth of mental health services in 2014. That assistance is now expected to shrink as a result of healthcare reforms under President Trump.
After Republicans have pledged to make some major cuts in federal spending, there is still hope out there that agencies like the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) would not see their funding severed. This would potentially be another devastating blow to the efforts already in place to battle addiction in America. Will President Trump defend these programs to help addicts?
What Will Help?
Some of the ideas this administration mentions do have some hope behind them. My opinion, we might want to hear more about the expansion of treatment options and access to life-saving resources. The strong focus on border control and President Trump’s cries for “law and order” and aggressive investigations sound extremely reminiscent of the War on Drugs that failed so many families and people suffering.
As the former drug czar Michael Botticelli stated,
“Any drug policy that’s going to be effective has got to be based on science and research,”
So President Trump has his work cut out for him, but some still say we need to see more being done with healthcare and providing resources. More advocates want to hear plans on healing people; on how we plan to save lives. Assure people by taking real action to show they will not be without insurance or treatment.
So this does not mean to say the President’s plans are not good. Essentially, we just want to hear more about them besides borders. If his plans do involve expanding current resources, and if the ACA is effectively replaced; if we see adequate funding appropriated for the CARA and if we make this about more than just immigrants and law enforcement, then the plan could make a difference. So far only time will tell.
Drug abuse and addiction is a devastating and deadly disease, and providing effective and compassionate treatment makes a lifelong difference. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, think about who you want to be working with to find a real solution. Please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
The most utilized drug treatment programs are 12-step fellowship programs
like Alcoholic Anonymous (AA), and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). However, there are many ways out there to achieve an optimal life in recovery. Some of these methods are very controversial. Even if they work for some people, the risks are often too high. Still, it is important to note that they are
other programs out there. Therefore, if you find that you are struggling with your treatment program
, it may be time to expand your support network. Do any of these programs appeal to you?
5 Controversial Addiction Treatments
- Moderation Management (MM)
Moderation Management aims to help those who are in the early stages of “problem drinking.” Those who go to meetings like MM are not usually “alcoholics” The program focuses on tackling behaviors and helping participants make lifestyle changes. As the name suggests, the emphasis is on moderation rather than be an abstinence-based program.
The Controversy? MM is not for everyone, and some people risk harm by trying to moderate their alcohol use, instead of focusing on an abstinent-only lifestyle. The organization is upfront in stating 30 percent of its members move on to abstinence-based programs. Even Audrey Kishline, one of the founder of Moderation Management left MM for abstinence-based programs like AA. Kishline made headlines when she was arrested driving blackout drunk and killing a 12-year old girl and her father. She served 3 ½ years in jail before being released. She admitted in a 2006 Dateline interview that she may have elevated the program as a way to “legitimize” her drinking behavior, and she says MM can work for someone “as long as they’re not truly an alcoholic.” Kishline was found dead in her Mother’s home on December 19th, 2014. Though it was never confirmed, it was widely believed to have been a suicide.
- SMART Recovery
Smart Recovery stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training. SMART is a worldwide support network known in the recovery community as the main alternative to AA. It is a four-point program based on abstinence. The ultimate goal of SMART is helping followers learn to lead a more balanced, structured life. It diverges from AA because it avoids the “powerless” ideology. Instead, techniques such as motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy are used.
The Controversy? The main controversy about SMART is the notion that addicts are not “powerless” over their addiction. This separates it from AA which emphasizes the powerless aspect in the first step. SMART recovery is about empowerment. Some criticisms of SMART are that the program is far too broad and deters other programs like AA. However, the organization states it is perfectly acceptable to use SMART alongside other sobriety aids, and even encourages it.
- Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
EFT is known more commonly as “tapping.” This technique involves just that: tapping on a series of pressure points while talking through challenges you are facing— for example, an addictive urge. The technique has roots in Eastern acupressure and combines that knowledge with Western psychotherapy. Tapping can also address the root causes of addiction.
The Controversy? Some argue that it’s nonsense. Although small studies have shown very promising results, there is no science-based explanation on why or how the technique works. Some worry that people with serious mental condition will become over-reliant on the method. Still, the technique is mostly harmless, so it is worth a try.
Neurofeedback allows the ability for you to see your brain waves on a computer screen in real time. Thus, you can learn to alter certain brain rhythms through continuous feedback. This form of treatment has been used traditionally for PTSD, however now it is being used in rehab centers and some psychological clinics. Accumulating evidence supports its effectiveness for conditions like insomnia, anxiety and depression.
The Controversy? Too new. It’s only been around for a short time and only has recently been used for addiction treatment. The research on the effects remain mixed and only time will tell if this will become the next best treatment.
- Hallucinogens/ Psychedelics
Hallucinogens and psychedelics are the next methods that some researchers believe to be effective in treating addiction. Ibogaine is a psychedelic substance that’s illegal in the U.S. However, in other countries, it is used to treat addiction to opiates, alcohol, and other substances. Ibogaine is thought to work by dampening the brain’s reward pathway. It is found to be particularly effective in lessening the effects of withdrawal.
Hallucinogens like magic mushrooms and ayahuasca have been considered a potential treatment for drug addiction. Ayahuasca is a healing brew traditionally used by indigenous peoples in the Amazon. The thinking is the drug can affect the brain cell receptors that control addiction. On a more spiritual level, people report having a healing experience or spiritual awakening that they believe to clear them of their past struggles.
The Controversy? Well… they are drugs, for one, so that is considered quite the unorthodox treatment option for drug addiction. Furthermore, because they are illegal, it is difficult for scientific studies to be approved to validate their effectiveness. The research is still ongoing and remains misunderstood.
Did anything stand out to you? While 12-step fellowships work for many people, everyone is different. It is important to understand all your options and the risks associated with them. Ultimately, the greatest risk is not seeking help at all. Get help today. Do not wait. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Shernide Delva
Breaking out of routines, and changing your life can be the hardest thing you ever have to do. However, it can also be the most rewarding.
For most of us, it takes a big epiphany or emotional tragedy to finally change our ways, but the truth is often the signs of changing our lives appear way before those major life events occur. Instead of waiting for some huge sign to shift your ways, why don’t you ask yourself if it is time to change today?
Being stuck in the same career path year after year can be a miserable existence, especially if you have a passion that eats away at your soul. If you find yourself constantly depressed and miserable, now is the time to look within. Make a change, and put yourself first.
6 Warning Signs it’s Time to Change Your Life:
- You Hate Going to Work.
Hate going to work? Do you feel dread waking up in the mornings? These are all signs that you need to shift the direction of your life. You might be afraid of leaving a place that is secure, but years are going to fly by. Unless you come up with a plan to change your life, you will be stuck exactly where you are in the next few years. Dreading your work life is a sign to reflect on your current passions and career goals. Now, not tomorrow, is the time to make a change. One of my favorite quotes is “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Write down your ambitions and make a plan to change. It takes time, but each day is a chance to take action.
- You Focus Too Much on Past Regrets.
“If only I would have gone to that college,” or “If only I would have sold my house before the market crashed…” “If only I would have saved more money…”
Looking back on past events in life is a major sign of trying to escape the now. It’s normal to reflect on some of the choices you have made in the past, however, keep your emotions in check. Do you take things as a learning experience? Every day is a chance to make the right decisions. Take advantage.
- You Are Jealous of Other People’s Success.
Jealousy is another major sign that you are insecure and discontent with your own life. When we are happy, we want other people to be happy. When you are feeling stuck, you may start to feel jealous of those who are more successful. When that happens, it is time to reflect on the reason for the jealousy. Most likely, your mind is telling you it is time for a change.
- You Are Always Exhausted.
Feeling extremely tired is often a sign of discontentment. You may feel like you are going through the motions, instead of living in the moment. Feeling tired and lethargic all the time often represents the struggle and hardships we are currently facing in our daily life. Instead of admitting defeat, find a way to get back on track. Transform your life by changing yourself from the inside-out.
- You Are Easily Overwhelmed.
If you feel like you are juggling a million things, it could be time to breathe and reflect on what exactly you are doing. Of course, our daily responsibilities can become overwhelming, at times, but if it is a regular occurrence, it could be a sign that you are stifled and are craving change. Feeling antsy may be your body’s way of telling you to take time to really understand your life’s purpose.
- You Are Constantly Dreaming of the Future.
Just like dwelling on past regrets is harmful, dreaming of the future constantly can be a sign of discontentment. Are you constantly thinking of goals you want to achieve, or even the next vacation? Our minds tend to focus on our passions and creativity. If you feel like you are always thinking about the kind of life you really want, rather than the life you have, perhaps it is time to find a way to make that dream a reality. Change does not happen overnight, but even the smallest step toward change can increase motivation and reduce negativity.
Overall, it is important for us to pay attention to our mind and bodies. They send us signals on what direction to take next so we feel fulfilled. Let go of your past and live in the present moment. In recovery, it is important to recognize what drives you and what makes you feel the most satisfied. . If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Author: Shernide Delva
President Barack Obama will make a budget request to Congress for $1 billion dollars to fight drug abuse and overdoses. The amount of overdoses in the United States is currently at an all-time high. More than 47,000 people died from drug overdoses last year, according to the CDC. That exceeds the amount of deaths in traffic accidents. Obama’s budget request aims to expand treatment specifically to those suffering from abusing prescription opioid painkillers as well those using cheaper drugs like heroin.
The majority of the $1 billion dollars would go to states under joint state-federal agreements increase the amount of people who have access to treatment. A smaller portion of $50 million would pay for a corps of 700 providers who know how to use drugs and therapy to treat drug addiction.
“Second, the President’s budget includes approximately $500 million — an increase of more than $90 million — to continue and build on current efforts across the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services to expand state-level prescription drug overdose prevention strategies, increase the availability of medication-assisted treatment programs, improve access to the overdose-reversal drug naloxone, and support targeted enforcement activities,” the White House said in a statement.
The drug naloxone, more commonly known by its trade name Narcan, can quickly reverse the effects of an overdose. Many states and cities are ensuring that first responders have naloxone on hand to save the lives of those who have overdosed. Recently, a variety of efforts has been made to make Narcan more readily available. Everything from having school nurses has access to the drug to making the drug available over the counter at pharmacies. With Narcan, the quicker a patient receives the drug, the better chance they have of surviving.
In the past, Obama has made it clear in the past that the opioid overdose epidemic is a priority for his Administration. Not long ago, the president issued a memorandum that served to combat the opioid epidemic through improving education and training as well as increase access to treatment. In 2012, health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain medications– enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills.
Obama went to West Virginia in October to hear personal accounts from individuals and families affected by the epidemic. West Virginia has the highest rate of overdoses in the country. He spoke to health care professionals, law enforcement officers, and community leaders working to prevent addiction and respond to its aftermath.
The President’s FY 2017 budget takes a two-pronged approach:
First, it includes $1 billion in new mandatory funding over two years to expand access to treatment for prescription drug abuse and heroin use. The funds are allotted in the following ways:
- $920 million to support and expand access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders. States can use these funds to expand treatment capacity and make services more affordable.
- $50 million in National Health Service Corps funding to expand access to substance use treatment providers. This funding will make it possible for close to 700 providers to provide substance use disorder treatment services in areas across the country most in need of behavioral health providers.
- $30 million to identify and evaluate the effectiveness of various treatment programs. This money would be used to understand the real-world conditions of drug abuse and understand the unique needs of patients with opioid use disorders.
Second, the president will increase the budget by close to 90 million for the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Health and Human Services (HHS). The increase in funds will be used to continue to implement prevention strategies as well as increase the availability of medication-assisted treatment programs. The budget includes an HHS pilot program for nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe buprenorphine for opioid use disorder treatment, where allowed by state law. Another objective is to increase access to Naloxone (Narcan) with these funds. The budget includes an HHS pilot program for nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe buprenorphine for opioid use disorder treatment, where allowed by state law.
Along with President Obama’s announcement come several proposals from presidential candidates for the upcoming election. It is clear that the drug epidemic is going to be a critical topic to tackle in the next coming years. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135