Repealing Obamacare Threatens Ohio Drug Crisis

As a student at Oberlin College in Ohio, I’ve become increasingly aware of the drug problems that the state has.

Ohio is one of the leading states in the country with drug and overdose related deaths. A report claimed that Ohio leads the nation in deaths both related to opioid and heroin usage. One in nine heroin deaths that occur in the U.S. happens in Ohio. These trends are not looking positive either; the Ohio Department of Health claims that unintentional drug overdoses were the cause of 3,050 deaths of Ohioans in 2015, a record high and a significant increase compared to the 2,531 in 2014.

drug-related-deaths-ohio-graph
Ohio Department of Health Drug Report

With these astounding numbers, it is dire for people who face these drug problems to seek the proper care to overcome addictions and their consequent health complications. Fortunately, under Obamacare, drug rehabilitation is one of the treatments that people can find financial assistance with, especially since the Affordable Care Act has allowed for mental health coverage to reach equal standards as physical health.

In a report released Wednesday from Harvard Medical School and New York University, it stated that over 220,000 people in Ohio with addiction and mental health disorders are covering treatment through Obamacare, with 151,357 through Medicaid expansion and 69,225 through private insurance.

However, early in the morning on Thursday, Senate Republicans took a major step toward repealing Obamacare, moving to allow them to dismantle the ACA without Democratic filibuster interference.

With this threat looming over the American people, repealing Obamacare without a proper replacement plan would remove insurance from the hundreds of thousands of Ohioans with drug addiction.

“If you talk to people in small town, suburbs, inner cities, rural areas, it doesn’t matter,” U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown said in an Elyria Chronicle-Telegram interview. “It comes up everywhere, and it’s something everyone deals with. If this is repealed, Congress would be reprehensibly and criminally pulling the rug out from under people.”

Not only will repealing greatly affect those currently using Obamacare for insurance coverage to seek treatment, but it will also be costly to the greater American population. An analysis by Rehab Center online states that annually, untreated addiction costs the country roughly “$420 billion due to healthcare, criminal justice, and lost productivity costs.”

Given that many of these drug problems occur in low income areas in Ohio, people receiving drug rehabilitation and other drug related medical treatment with the help of Obamacare will be left in the dust if repeal occurs. It would be a massive mistake to dismantle Obamacare without considering the insurmountable effects it would have on these individuals and their communities.

As President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration approaches next week, it is important to continue standing for Obamacare. Not only are 220,000 Ohioans accessing the healthcare law for drug related care, but over 700,000 people in Ohio depend on it. Even Ohio Governor John Kasich fears for these dependent people, standing against his party in fighting for Obamacare.

I encourage you to continue calling your state representatives and senators. Stand for Obamacare, for those who need it and for the greater benefit of the nation as a whole.

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