Durbin: Trumpcare Would Inflame Opioid Crisis in DuPage County

DOWNERS GROVE – In the midst of the opioid crisis, President Trump’s budget and plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would greatly diminish access to substance abuse treatment in the western suburbs, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin said today in a meeting at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital. Last year, there were 78 opioid overdose deaths in DuPage County, a 53 percent increase over the previous year. President Trump’s proposed budget would exacerbate these problems by cutting programs that help combat the opioid epidemic, including $130 million in cuts to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration grants for prevention and treatment.  


The American Health Care Act (AHCA), which passed the House earlier this month with support from every Republican Congressman in Illinois, would allow insurers to deny coverage of substance abuse treatment, including for those who have employer-based insurance, and slash Medicaid funding by $40 billion for Illinois, which thousands of people in DuPage County depend on to get treatment.


“In the midst of the most devastating drug abuse epidemic in our history, the Republican health care bill passed in the House could cut off access to addiction treatment – even for those who get insurance through their employer – and throw millions of Americans off their health insurance,” Durbin said. “Combined with cuts in Trump’s budget, the Republican health care bill is irresponsible and dangerous – especially for the millions people suffering from opioid addiction whose treatments are now covered. I will fight to protect the gains we have made under the ACA, and continue to support our most vulnerable populations and the providers that serve them.”


The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its score this week, which found that the AHCA would cause 23 million people to lose insurance, including one million in Illinois.  The CBO report makes clear that the bill is incompatible with a serious response to the opioid epidemic, since it would:


  • Allow insurers to deny coverage of mental health or substance abuse treatment.  CBO said: “out-of-pocket spending on maternity care and mental health and substance abuse services could increase by thousands of dollars in a given year”;


  • Allow insurers to charge people with pre-existing conditions “extremely high premiums.” CBO went on to say: “People who are less healthy, including those with pre-existing conditions, would ultimately be unable to purchase comprehensive individual market insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law, if they could purchase it at all”;


  • Eliminate the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, throwing 650,000 low-income Illinoisans off insurance, nearly one-third of whom have a mental health or substance use disorder;


  • Convert the entire Medicaid program – which is the largest payer of substance abuse treatment – to a cap or block grant, resulting in a $40 billion funding cut for Illinois over next decade, and a loss of 60,000 jobs.  Next year, uncompensated care for Illinois hospitals would increase by $347 million.


In Illinois’ 6th Congressional District, 41,400 people could lose their health insurance if the ACA is repealed —including 4,200 people with an individual market plan; 20,700 people with employer-sponsored insurance; 1,800 elderly Medicaid beneficiaries; 6,100 children on Medicaid; 2,900 nonelderly adults on Medicaid; 800 adults with disabilities on Medicaid; and 4,900 adults who have Medicaid expansion coverage.