As the GOP tries to push Trump’s healthcare reform through, the staggering scale of the opioid crisis has come into sharp focus — with nearly 1.3 million Americans hospitalized for opioid related health issues. That’s around the same number of people as the population of San Antonio, Texas. That comes out to over 3,561 people a day, for 365 days, or 71 per state per day. And that’s based on government data from 2014, though the problem has continued to worsen in the past two years.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) data indicates just how crucial healthcare access is to those suffering from opioid dependence. Patients in urban areas are more likely to get hospital care, while numbers are lower in rural areas — incidentally, where death rates from opioid use are growing. The data also shows that New England and Appalachia are some of the most affected areas, with Maryland topping the list. Texas, Nebraska and Iowa, however, have lower hospital admission rates, but are also more rural. The data doesn’t elucidate to what extent that’s because the opioid epidemic isn’t as severe in those states, or if there are simply fewer affected persons seeking hospital care.
Drug overdose incidents are on the rise, causing 33,000 deaths in 2015 alone. For the first time in decades, the life expectancy rate in the U.S. has dropped, in part due to the dent put in by the opioid epidemic. Young people ages 25-44 are most likely to be affected (minorities are also heavily affected, along with poor Americans), though the Washington Post notes troubling data that suggests young people have more to worry about than just opioids — death rates from all causes have increased, though its opioid and alcohol related deaths that seem the most striking.
While many states are trying to make drugs that counteract the affects of opioid addiction like naloxone more readily available, those efforts could be stymied by cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and alterations to the Affordable Care Act. Pumping more pills, even those that save lives, won’t matter if no one can afford them. Trump is aware of that, and has discussed pushing big pharma to drop prices on opioid antidotes, but the actual results of such talk — like much of the healthcare debate — still hangs in the balance. One thing is for sure, the American people are scared about losing their healthcare, and the most the GOP tries to push their healthcare policy, the more Trump’s approval ratings sink.
(Via Washington Post)