American Health Care Act (AHCA) will Fuel Opioid Epidemic and Devastate Addiction Treatment

Denver, CO – Arapahoe House, Colorado’s largest and leading provider of substance use disorder treatment, denounces the 2017 American Health Care Act’s (AHCA) reductions to Medicaid coverage. The bill passed by the House contains provisions that, if enacted, could devastate Americans’ addiction and mental health coverage and care.

“This is the perfect storm,” said Arapahoe House president and CEO, Mike Butler. “We are already in the middle of an opioid epidemic. If we restrict access to treatment by shrinking Medicaid, individuals will continue to progress in their disease to the point that it becomes much more difficult and costly to treat. That cost is passed on to businesses, the health care system and taxpayers. Every Coloradan will ultimately be affected.”

A 2016 federal study ranked Colorado as one of the top states in the nation for substance abuse. The need for treatment is overwhelming — three in 10 Coloradans need help for a substance use or mental health disorder and an accidental overdose occurs nearly every nine hours.

Arapahoe House is committed to delivering life-saving treatment, but cannot do so without sufficient funding. Medicaid is the largest payer for substance use and mental health disorder services in the US, with one-third of its members suffering from either health condition. The majority of Arapahoe House patients are on Medicaid.

“A growing number of people seeking addiction treatment depend on Medicaid coverage to receive essential healthcare services,” continued Butler. “Many individuals lose everything — job, family and financial stability — as their disease progresses. 90 percent of Arapahoe House patients are in the low income bracket with monthly incomes around $1,350.”