AG Landry: Medicaid expansion increasing opioid addiction

Is Medicaid expansion fueling opioid crisis?

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry claims Medicaid expansion has worsened pain killer addiction in the state.

Governor John Bel Edwards signed an executive order shortly after taking office, making the program available to those just over the poverty line.

"I’m not blaming the entire epidemic on Medicaid expansion, what I am saying is that it certainly has the opportunity and is exacerbating the particular (opioid) problem that we already have," Landry said.

According to Landry, prior to expansion, Medicaid covered about 500,000 prescriptions a year. That's compared to roughly 900,000 prescriptions covered today.

"We recognize that certainly we can say that a percentage, probably a large percentage of those prescriptions are hitting the streets," Landry said. "People absolutely fake injuries to get opioid prescriptions and take those prescriptions, that they’re not paying for, that are paid for by the taxpayers and then sell them on the street."

The Edwards administration stands by the state Department of Health which called Landry's assertion "unfair."

According to DHH, new limits on opioid prescriptions, backed by the governor have actually decreased the number of opioids prescribed by about 25 percent over the last three months.

Edward Carlson, the CEO of Odyssey House, a health clinic that also provides residential drug treatment in New Orleans, said he hasn't seen an increase in demand for treatment.

"The opioid epidemic has been building up for the last three years, so before the Medicaid expansion we still had a huge need," Carlson said. "We still have a huge need now."

Landry admits he voted against the Affordable Care Act, which allowed Medicaid expansion when he was a member of Congress.

"I think it’s a disaster," Landry said.

A spokesman for the governor said about 14,000 people have been able to seek treatment for drug addiction, thanks to the expansion of Medicaid.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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