President Trump’s budget proposal released this week would reduce funding for addiction treatment, research and prevention. The most damaging proposed cut, critics say, is the president’s 10-year plan to shrink spending for Medicaid, which provides coverage to an estimated three in 10 adults with opioid addiction, the Associated Press reports. The blueprint comes after the president celebrated House passage of a Republican health care bill that would dramatically reduce Medicaid coverage, while allowing states to weaken a requirement that private insurance cover addiction treatment. A Congressional Budget Office report on Wednesday said a patient’s cost of substance abuse services could increase by thousands of dollars a year in states that chose to weaken coverage requirements.
Some see the moves as a painful betrayal of Americans whose families have been devastated by addiction and trusted the president’s repeated pledges to make them a priority. Trump’s budget priorities focus on tax cuts, military spending and border security with massive cuts to programs for the poor and disabled. Those most frustrated include parents who shared their stories with Trump. “We want to help those who have become so badly addicted,” Trump insisted during a late-March “listening session” on opioid and drug abuse at the White House. “I didn’t see this coming,” said Paul Kusiak, of Beverly, Ma., who shared with Trump the story of his two sons’ successful battle with opioid addiction during a New Hampshire roundtable discussion eight days before the election. “I’m trying desperately to have hope and take the president at his word.” Trump would cut funding for addiction research and eliminate support for the training of addiction professionals. He wants to cut prevention programs by more than 30 percent, says one advocacy group. Trump would cut millions of dollars of federal support of drug courts, prescription drug monitoring programs and state programs aimed at prescription drug overdoses.