Last year 64,000 people died of a drug overdose, but President Donald Trump is only allocating $57,000 on a version of the "Just Say No" campaign of the 1980s. MSNBC's Joy Reid couldn't believe the low figure, but one Kentucky congressman thinks faith-based treatment centers will pick up the rest of the tab.
"I'm sure as you understand fighting something like the opioid epidemic takes money," Reid said to Rep. James Comer (R-KY). She explained that one-fourth of substance abuse is paid for now by Medicaid coverage.
"You, sir, voted on a budget that The Hill reports, [has] a lot of unjustifiable provisions in this budget," Reid said. "On top of massive tax cuts for the rich, it cuts vital national investments, citing more than $4 trillion in mandatory spending cuts including almost $2 trillion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. How can you justify voting for are a budget that cuts the very funds needed to treat the opioid addicted in your state?"
Comer's excuse was that there are a lot of people addicted to opioids that aren't on Medicaid.
"But the majority of those who are addicted utilize Medicaid in their treatment. How can you justify cutting those funds?" she asked again.
He claimed that Medicaid would still exist, but in Kentucky, "we have too many people on Medicaid." He then went back to a 2016 bill that would have provided $1 billion in funding for states fighting the opioid crisis. "So, I have supported increased drug funding." It's the recent healthcare budget that he voted to cut billions in treatment. He claimed that Trump has everyone working together at the local, state and federal level so that it will get done.
"Not without money. Hospitals actually rely on federal money, Medicaid money, for part of what they do," Reid said. "In Kentucky 17 of the counties in your state tie for the highest rate of overdose deaths. Medicaid covers two-fifths of the population. You have over 2,000 people on Medicaid. Do you believe that these folks can be treated without funding? If you take the money away how will those people be treated?"
He tried to explain that they weren't taking the money away but Reid said he voted for a budget that cuts the funding. Comer then pivoted to the $20 trillion national debt and that belts needed to be tightened. Reid cut in again schooling him that the budget he just voted for added to the deficit while also cutting Medicaid.
"It's unfortunate, but there are other avenues to fight drug abuse," he continued. "I'm a big believer in faith-based initiatives to help combat drug abuse."