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Senator Bill Nelson Wants to Keep ACA, while Governor Rick Scott Wants it Repealed: How the Opioid Epidemic Could be Affected by the Election

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Addiction is a pre-existing condition which means fewer people affected by the opioid crisis might have access to treatment. Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

Addiction is a pre-existing condition which means fewer people affected by the opioid crisis might have access to treatment. Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

Senator Bill Nelson called renewed efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act quote “irresponsible.” Nelson was speaking at an addiction treatment center in Orlando today.

Repealing the Affordable Care Act would reverse protections for people with preexisting conditions.

Psychoanalyst Dr. David March says insurance companies consider substance abuse disorders preexisting conditions, but under Obamacare, his patients can’t be charged higher premiums or denied coverage if they relapse.

“The effects of people not getting treatment would mean there were more homeless people, more broken families, and just poorer health in general as people who are addicted tend to have poorer health.”

That’s why Senator Bill Nelson says Medicaid needs to be expanded in Florida as a safety net. He’s especially concerned about people losing treatment for substance abuse disorders during the height of an opioid crisis:

“And Florida is one of the places of the greatest opioid epidemics. The state of Florida relaxed its recommendations and it didn’t crack down on these pill mills.”

Nelson’s opponent Governor Rick Scott supports repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, while keeping protections for people with preexisting conditions. But he did declare a statewide public health emergency in 2017, making more than 27 million dollars in federal funding available to provide prevention and treatment.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation more than 2,700 people died from opioid overdoses in 2016 in the state. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch Connell told reporters repealing the health law will be one of the priorities of the upcoming Congressional session along with possibly cutting budgets for programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. 

If you or someone you know is in crisis in Orange County help is available through the Heart of Florida United Way by texting opioid to TXT-211 (898-211). 

If you’d like to listen to the full story, please click on the clip above. 

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Danielle Prieur

About Danielle Prieur

Reporter & Fill-in Host

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter at WMFE. You can hear her reporting on a daily basis on the station. She also fills-in as a host during the morning and afternoon drive times. Her reporting has been featured on NPR, Marketplace, Here & Now, and Vox. Danielle is originally from Rochester Hills, ... Read Full Bio »