Advocates Call For More Resources For Opioid Epidemic In Health Plan | WABE 90.1 FM

Advocates Call For More Resources For Opioid Epidemic In Health Plan

Jun 30, 2017

A state lawmaker and advocates fighting the opioid addiction crisis in Georgia say they're hoping for more resources in the U.S. Senate's health plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.

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At a press conference Friday surrounded by loved ones of people who died of opioid overdoses in Georgia, state Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, said the state is “in the throes” of an epidemic.

Unterman says she wants to see more funding for opioid addiction treatment in the U.S. Senate's health care proposal.

“The most important thing I want to remain in it and to see an increased amount of money is for substance abuse, and specifically for the states to be able to fight the opioid epidemic,” she said.

The U.S. Senate health plan included $2 billion for opioids over 10 years, but Republicans are talking about boosting that to $45 billion.

Unterman said she's concerned about how proposed Medicaid cuts in the bill would affect the state’s struggling rural hospitals, which are paid for their services in part by Medicaid.  

“Bottom line is, we have hospitals closing in the state of Georgia. We want to discontinue the hemorrhaging of those hospitals to maintain our existing infrastructure. And I'm not sure we're going to be able to do it with potential cuts to Medicaid,” Unterman said.

Robin Cardiges, with Georgia Overdose Prevention, lost her son to an overdose five years ago.

"We need more treatment facilities and we don’t have funding,” Cardiges said.

Unterman said she’s looking to appropriate more money toward the epidemic in the 2018 legislative session.