CBO Assessment of the Senate's Healthcare Reform Bill

July 6, 2017 | Addiction Policy Forum

With the release of the Senates healthcare reform bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017, last week, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects 49 million Americans will be without insurance by 2026, compared to the 51 million under the House-passed legislation. The CBO also estimated that this bill will reduce funding levels for Medicaid by $732 billion over 10 years, which will have a significant impact on those in need of mental health and substance use disorder treatment, as this is a primary financing mechanism for an estimated 34% of the 2.66 million Americans in need of these resources, 99,000 of whom gained coverage through the Medicaid expansion that the Better Care Reconciliation Act would roll back in the coming years.

The Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) of 2017 would appropriate $2 billion in the 2018 Fiscal Year to help provide individuals suffering from substance use disorders or mental health disorders with improved treatment and recovery services. The BCRA does not make any provisions for services post-FY18 for added investment in better services. Senators Moore (R-WV) and Portman (R-OH) asked for represent states that have been deeply affected by the opioid epidemic and have expressed that without a more serious commitment to the prevention and treatment of substance abuse disorder, they will not be able to support the bill.  

Dr. Richard Frank, a professor of health economics at Harvard University, has not that it would likely take $190 billion needed over the next 10 years to fully address the growing opioid epidemic and meet the increased demand for services.

“It is estimated that more than 60,000 individuals died of Drug Overdose in 2016 here in the United States. That exceeds all Americans killed in action in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan combined,” Jessica Hulsey Nickel, CEO and President of the Addiction Policy Forum in response to the release of the BRCA. “This epidemic is persistent, pervasive, and getting worse. We ask that [our representatives and senators?] work to protect treatment for addiction in any healthcare reform efforts to ensure access for the most vulnerable people suffering with addiction.