Morgantown, WV – Local citizens will gather Tuesday night, June 27th, from 6 to 7 at Valley HealthCare System (301 Scott Avenue) to learn about how changes in federal law are likely to affect West Virginians seeking treatment and recovery from opioid addiction.
State Delegate and Valley HealthCare board member, Barbara Evans Fleischauer, will emcee the event and draw attention to the needs of the more than 32,000 West Virginians who gained access to treatment through a combination of the Obamacare exchanges and Medicaid expansion.
Treatment for substance abuse and mental illness is jeopardized by the American Healthcare Act (AHCA) that was introduced in the United States Senate on Thursday. The AHCA was passed by a party line vote in the House of Representatives in May and may be considered in the Senate next week.
“Our Congressional delegation have all said they are horrified by the opioid epidemic which has hit our state harder than any other, yet the bill West Virginia House of Representative members voted for drastically cuts funding for substance abuse and mental health treatment, while handing out tax breaks to the rich,” said Fleischauer.
“I served with Shelley Moore Capito in the West Virginia House of Delegates and I know that she is a caring person. On this incredibly important vote, I am hoping and praying that she will make the right choice for our citizens affected by mental illness or substance abuse, rather than catering to those in the right wing who devised this cruel legislation," noted Fleischauer.
Harvard Medical School researcher, Richard Frank PhD, found this week that the scale of cuts being proposed to Medicaid in the AHCA would result in an eventual $14 billion annual shortfall in funding for the treatment and healthcare needs of individuals seeking mental health and substance abuse treatment.
In reflecting on the impact of the cuts, Valley Healthcare System CEO, Cheryl Perone, noted, “As the CEO of a behavioral health center in WV, I have been delighted by the increase in our ability, through Medicaid expansion, to offer services to more West Virginians who are dealing with life altering substance abuse and mental health disorders.”
“As a Licensed Psychologist I have listened to the stories of these people who are mentally ill and/or addicted. Often they have lost everything--their homes and families, their ability to work and care for themselves and even their ability to find pleasure in the everyday life events that we all take for granted. Behavioral health services, made possible by Medicaid, help make people's lives better every day. These services must be protected.”