Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen is an expert in the treatment of opioid addiction. The city of Baltimore, like so many other towns and cities across the nation, is experiencing an epidemic that has left thousands dead from overdoses. It is a national emergency.
In her interview with ThinkProgress, she makes it clear that a key component in the successful treatment of the addition is Medicaid, without which thousands more would die.
The role of health insurance coverage could not be understated. Here in Maryland, one in three of our patients who have substance abuse disorders depend on Medicaid for treatment. We also need to make sure that essential health benefits, covering addiction and mental health treatment, remains part of insurance plan.
We should not be pricing people out of the ability to pay for these services at a time of a public health epidemic. For people who have the disease of addiction, there is no margin of error. If they were to lose their insurance today, the only option would be maybe go out in the streets and overdose and die. We should be doing a lot more to expand health insurance coverage. The last thing we should be doing is to cut services and cut health insurance such as Medicaid, and steps to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and basic social services.
The interview is a comprehensive look at what is needed to not only combat the disease but prevent it. It also serves as a reminder of how important comprehensive health care coverage is on so many levels.