WASHINGTON, DC (AP) – The top government lawyers from 19 states are telling President Donald Trump and the Republican leaders of Congress not to pass health insurance changes that would stop the flow of federal drug treatment money.

A letter sent Friday by a group of attorneys general for 19 states plus Washington D.C., is the latest in a series of actions from Democrats who hold those offices to oppose Trump’s policies and actions.

It comes a day after Trump touted progress on a “great plan” to overhaul the nation’s health care system, saying a deal could come together next week. Many Republican officials are skeptical that action could come so quickly. Trump didn’t offer details on the plan.

The attorneys general’s letter said that a bill that died last month could have eventually cut more than $13 billion a year in treatment funding through a combination of direct cuts and caps on Medicaid. Medicaid changes could have ended coverage for an estimated 24 million people; for many with addictions, the taxpayer funded health insurance program is the only way to pay for treatment.

They attorneys general warned any plan like that would be a blow to a country dealing with an epidemic of addiction to opioids including heroin, fentanyl and prescription pain drugs. The drugs contributed to the deaths of nearly 29,000 Americans in 2014. The officials said law enforcement alone can’t solve the problem.

“In the midst of an ongoing public health crisis,” the letter said, “the federal government cannot abandon this commitment to our Communities.”

Last month, Trump announced that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would head a federal task force to make recommendations on dealing with the opioid crisis.

For the past decade, attorneys general have often stood up to presidents, particularly those from the opposite party.

The opioid letter, like other objections to Trump’s stances, was not joined by any Republicans. Attorneys general in California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington state and Washington, D.C., all signed.

This year, Democratic attorneys general have also banded together to object to issues including Trump’s proposed travel restrictions and his plans to dismantle the Clean Power Plan. Some have sued over the travel ban, prompting courts to block implementation.

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (7)
  1. They should gut the program and put the money toward preventing those drugs from getting into the country at all. It’s currently a death penalty to ply the trade in many places of our world which knocks the issue down a bit there eh? Except here, where we can put a capitalist spin on anything – drunk driving for an appalling example. When Vietnam vets returned home with close to 90% opioid addiction rates the one thing that worked was the relocation, not treatment. Treatment is for those with a comfortable safety net and no incentive to refrain from repetitive bad choices. Relocation demands attention to basic survival needs. Please don’t tell me they’ll choose the drugs, most opioid abusers are afraid of the world, that’s their solace, but they’re not fools. They take care of their addiction by prioritizing it very well from day to day. Redirection worked years ago, it can work again. Tough love is the name of the game, not capitalism. If I’m wrong, you can call the Addiction Hotline – “NOW”.

    1. Most addicts start with good old USA prescription drugs, The DEA sets the production quotas of Oxycontin and Fentanyl, and they have increased then 4000% over 20 years. So either Americans are in 40 times more pain or the DEA is loving the lobbying money or just plain bribes of big pharmacies.

      Remember Quaaludes? They were everywhere in the 70’s, the FDA just cut quotas to almost nothing and they vanished. Its that simple.

      1. i wrote FDA, not DEA the 2nd time by mistake, no edit…..

  2. according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Much of this was due to the pharmaceutical industry’s lobbying and PR campaign, led by Purdue Pharmaceutical, to boost the use of narcotics. (Purdue would ultimately plead guilty to misleading the public about the addiction risk posed by the painkiller OxyContin, which contains oxycodone, and pay a $634.5 million fine.)

    DEA quotas also played a role in empowering pharmaceutical companies to flood the market with pills. In 1993, three years before Purdue released OxyContin, the agency capped oxycodone manufacturing at just 3,520 kilograms, journalist John Temple writes in his book American Pain. But by 2007, this number had shot up to 70,000 kilograms, an almost twentyfold increase. Production peaked in 2013, with pharma companies churning out more than 150,000 kilograms of oxycodone. Next year, with the revised quotas in place, they’ll produce more than 108,000 kilograms.

    1. man this comment system stinks…

      this was cut off that comment

      In 2013, doctors wrote nearly 207 million prescriptions for narcotic painkillers, up from around 76 million in 1991,

  3. Dylan Kerr says:

    Back in the UK, sadly, since 2010 funds for drug treatment have been cut by a whopping 47%.

    It was known as a “Cinderella Service” back when I started in 2007, fund were exceptionally limited, god only knows what it’s like now.

    One major problem for families and those effected by drugs is that there is a false assumption that through paying national insurance there is treatment available. Unfortunately this simply isn’t the case. Many of those seeking treatment will either have to endure years of agony pleading their case for it or just simply not get any access to it.

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