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How Medicaid Expansion Can Help Florida’s Opioid and Substance Use Epidemic

The death rate from opioid related deaths in Florida is higher than the national average and between 2012 and 2017 the rate more than doubled. In May 2017 Governor Scott declared opioid addiction a public health emergency. But in spite of the rhetoric, funding for services has been inadequate, as the rising death rate demonstrates.

For the last five years Florida has ignored the perfect opportunity to tackle the problem of opioid addiction. We could be providing our citizens with comprehensive treatment that, in the long run, will not cost the state anything. This untapped resource is Medicaid expansion.

Adults eligible for Medicaid expansion have a higher incidence of opioid addiction than other Medicaid enrollees. Reports from other states report those needing treatment will enroll in Medicaid, engage in and benefit from treatment.

A study of death files from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found expansion states experienced 30% fewer heroine deaths and a 26% reduction from other narcotics related deaths. (McInerney)

Our tax dollars are paying for Medicaid expansion but the state has decided to refuse to use our tax dollars to treat addiction and prevent deaths.

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