‘He got me hook, line and sinker’: Trump voters struggling with opioid crisis realize they were duped
An upstate New York man who sold many of his possessions last year to fund a months-long tour playing music at Trump rallies now regrets his vote for the Republican candidate.
“I had everything riding on the fact that he was going to make things better,” Kraig Moss told the Associated Press. “He lied to me.”
Then-candidate Donald Trump looked Moss in the eye at one rally in Iowa and told the grieving father he would help end the drug epidemic that had claimed his 24-year-old son, whose ashes accompanied the truck driver to 45 rallies.
“He promised me, in honor of my son, that he was going to combat the ongoing heroin epidemic,” Moss said. “He got me hook, line and sinker.”
Post-election analyses found that Trump over-performed in Rust Belt counties ravaged by public health crises — such as drug and alcohol addiction and suicide — but the president’s budget released this week slashes funding for addiction treatment, research and prevention.
Medicaid funding would shrivel under Trump’s 10-year plan, which could devastate coverage to an estimated three in 10 adults addicted to opioids.
Although Congress is unlikely to approve Trump’s budget as written, the GOP-led House passed a health care bill that would dramatically reduce Medicaid coverage and let states weaken requirements for covering addiction treatment.
Patient costs for substance abuse services could jump by thousands of dollars a year in those states, according to a new analysis by the Congressional Budget Office.
Trump promised during the campaign and after his election to help families suffering from the opioid epidemic — but his voters feel betrayed by the president’s focus on tax cuts, military spending and border security.
“I didn’t see this coming,” said Paul Kusiak, of Massachusetts, who told Trump the candidate about his sons’ successful battles with addiction. “I’m trying desperately to have hope and take the president at his word.”
Trump told voters about his own father’s struggle with alcoholism, and they trusted he would help their own families.
“I believed that he had learned something new and was going to do something about it,” said Patty McCarthy Metcalf, who leads the advocacy group Faces and Voices of Recovery. “He’s let us down.”
Trump has asked New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to lead a task force on opioid addiction, under the direction of his son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner, but his budget and other proposed cuts has worried many supporters.
“Inside I’m screaming,” said Sandra Chavez, of Sacramento, whose son died from an infection related to drug use. “We’re going backward with Donald Trump’s plan.”
Trump has proposed cutting funds for addiction research, prevention programs, drug courts and prescription drug monitoring, as well as eliminating support for training of addiction professional.
Justin Butler, a 36-year-old Trump voter from Cleveland, fears he will be back on the streets, using drugs and selling them, if Medicaid stops paying for addiction treatment.
“He’s turning his back on people,” Butler said. “He’s a liar.”