Nearly 63,000 in Pa. would lose drug treatment coverage if ACA is repealed
Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | 01.12.17
Photo by AP Photo/John Minchillo
Someone who is addicted to drugs, center, is attended to by emergency service workers after calling in for help after using, as heroin awareness and advocacy groups in Cincinnati rally on the steps of the Hamilton County Justice Center, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, in Cincinnati.
(Harrisburg) -- As Pennsylvania grapples with the opioid crisis, the battle could get be getting even tougher.
If the federal Affordable Care Act is repealed, tens of thousands of people may not have access to drug and alcohol treatment.
Governor Tom Wolf's administration says thanks to Medicaid expansion that's part of the ACA, more than 690,000 low-income people have been able to get the care they need.
Nearly 63,000 of them used their Medicaid to access drug and alcohol treatment in 2015 alone.
But if the ACA is repealed, it's expected most of them would have to rely solely on the emergency room.
Lydia Gottesfeld, a staff attorney with the nonprofit Community Legal Services, says they wouldn't be able to get long-term help to actually treat their addiction, because they wouldn't be able to afford it.
"Without insurance, that person likely wouldn't be even going into their primary care provider, let alone a drug and alcohol treatment provider. The folks we see just were out of the system, not getting treatment at all," says Gottesfeld.
Gottesfeld says Pennsylvania has made great strides to address the drug crisis, but if the ACA is repealed, its efforts would take a step back.
"A lot of people now who may go to their primary care provider and may be referred for treatment, are then able to get into a program like a methadone clinic or something like that that they just would have no access to before," she adds.
More than 3,500 people died from drug overdoses in Pennsylvania in 2015.
Published in Affordable Care Act