Has Medicaid Made the Opioid Epidemic Worse?

Medicaid hasn’t proven to be the antidote for the opioid epidemic ravaging America, but it just might be adding more poison. Much opposition to the Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare has coalesced around a dubious talking point that Medicaid expansion is the best way to fix the opioid crisis. Some Democrats, such as Senators Bob Casey (Pa.) and Joe Manchin (W.V.), are aggressively pushing the concept that Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion must be maintained in order to provide drug-addiction treatment services. Some Republicans, such as Senators Rob Portman (Ohio) and Shelley Moore Capito (W.V.), have said they want to repeal Obamacare but have concerns about what that will mean for the fight against drug addiction.

On the surface, these might seem like reasonable worries. But there is much more to the story.

While Medicaid may in some cases provide additional treatment options for an addict who is willing to engage, it also provides a “free” plastic card loaded with unlimited government funds that often increases access to opioids.