Senator Casey Says Proposed Health Care Bill Could Worsen Opioid Epidemic

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WILKES-BARRE -- Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Casey believes that the health care bill proposed by Republicans could make the opioid crisis even worse.

He came to the Luzerne County Courthouse Monday with one question on his mind.

"In the midst of trying to solve this problem, why would we ever cut the program that has the greatest impact on it over time? Medicaid and in particular, Medicaid expansion," Casey said.

He told a crowd at the courthouse that the new health care bill has devastating cuts to Medicaid that would affect people seeking help for addiction.

"None of us believe that the opioid problem is going to be eliminated in the next couple of years, so just when we're going to need it the most, that's when a lot of the cuts hit," Casey said.

Steve Ross is the director for a drug and alcohol program in Luzerne County that helps addicts. He said that last year, someone in Luzerne County died from an overdose every two and a half days. This year, he said that rate could go even higher.

"Any future cuts to drug and alcohol treatment, whether it be on a local, state, or federal level, will be crippling to our program," Ross said,

For Lisa Napersky, opioid addiction hits close to home. She lost her brother in 2001.

"I was there with him multiple times at three o'clock in the morning on the phone trying to find a bed for him, but when you don't have insurance and also back then addiction was really treated like a criminal issue," Napersky said.

She said people of all walks of life are living with addiction. She hopes they can get the help they need.

"I don't know if my brother would be alive today if there was the ACA [Affordable Care Act], but at least he would have had a fighting chance," Napersky said.

The health care bill proposed by the Senate has not yet come up for a vote.


  • magicmikexxsm

    Senator Casey Says Proposed Health Care Bill Could Worsen Opioid Epidemic…….
    Democrats have nothing but fear, and more fear….you got nothing suck as a Pa senator ……
    The only reason their is an opioid epidemic is because of STUPID PEOPLE..why would you want to inject, snore, smoke that krap anyways… all know what it does to you, so why do it…..idiots.

  • DinoB325

    Did he read this bill to see what’s in this time? Obstructionist fear politics of the liberal left. Has he done a single thing for NEPA in all his years?? Hard to think of even one!

  • Tjkat

    Again the invisible Casey makes an appearance! Pass the bill so they will stop taking a fine from me for no coverage. Obama gave away the store and we the working class had to pay for his and the democrats social programs. Too many dead beats on Medicaid!! Just let us pick our own plan!!! Very simple!!

  • Givemeabreak

    If you want to fix this epidemic start throwing the doctors in jail that right these scripts out like they are candy. Go after the ones who make the pills. Stop throwing more tax payer money at the problem. It’s treating the symptom and not the cause.

  • Tilly

    Sleepy Bobby rattlin’ around because an election is coming up. We stupid. Tell us more lies, Sleepy Bobby

  • El Ma

    Um……….in some instances, opioids are 100% appropriate to treat pain – on a TEMPORARY basis. So…..if someone is suffering from chronic pain, the answer isn’t to continue writing prescriptions for powerful medications.

    Illegal drugs? There have been, and always will be a trade in illegal substances. And, government “funding” for substance abuse doesn’t solve the issues. The issues lie with the addicts, themselves, and the professionals that are quick to write out prescriptions for pain meds without using their noodles.

    Why is it that the whole has to suffer (figuratively AND literally) because of the actions of a few others?

    • RicU.

      We are agreed here. Proper administration of any medicine is appropriate. As for illegal, we define it the same. The whole will suffer to some degree as it is more politically acceptable to write the legislation that way. Please read the comment about “responsibility” in another thread.

  • Bill

    Anybody who believes casey is an idiot. Look what his old man did jumped in front of the line for his transplant of liver and heart then kicks the bucket after he screwed over ppl waiting on the list. So screw his whole family

    • Kraven Morehead

      Last time I checked most people would get a tax break. Wait until the government starts collecting tax on your health benefits as regular income. Then let me know what you think of Obamacare.

  • Enough Already

    Will this be in addition to the hundreds of millions the libs say will die? How many already died because Obama Care failed and so many couldn’t afford it?
    These people are shameless with their ridiculous statements about health insurance.

  • RicU.

    Senator Casey is just anti-everything. The problem with the Opiod Epidemic is the lack of enforcement. Having the likes of Narcon to throw at the problem is not the answer. It is a coordinated attack not voiced from any political mouthpiece, especially from Sen Casey. With precious little township funding for any enforcement You can’t expect the PA SP to respond from scores of miles away. .Using Sen. Casey’s self serving remarks, with less spent on worthless Narcon distribution to totally unqualified people, more would be available to stop the substance. distribution.

    Recent traffic enforcement by the PA SP has proven my point by seizing hundreds of pounds of all contraband included illegal firearms, paraphernalia and cash. While not the most efficient way, it did take this off the street. .

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