This Recovering Opioid User Worries that the GOP Health Bill Will Be Her Death Sentence

Meet Shelby.

On Tuesday morning, Senate Democrats blasted the draconian cuts to Medicaid proposed by the Senate health bill, highlighting the spiraling opioid epidemic taking hold across the country. The bill would cut an estimated $772 billion over ten years from Medicaid, the country’s leading payer for addiction treatment. (For more of what the Senate bill would mean for the opioid epidemic, check out our explainer.)

Among the participants in the Dems’ D.C.  press conference was a woman from West Virginia named Shelby, who, like thousands of others, depends on Medicaid for opioid addiction medication. 

“Without Medicaid, I wouldn’t have a family. Without Medicaid, I’d be dead,” she said. Shelby used opioids “from the street” for three years until she began a treatment program funded by Medicaid. “It was like someone handing their hand out to me and pulling me out of the hole,” Shelby said. “If this bill goes through,” she explained through tears, “the next time you might see my name in any paper might be in the obituary.” 

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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