Representative Lisa Subeck Calls for State Assembly to Address Health Care Access as Critical Solution to Opioid Epidemic

Legislation passed today is a small step in the right direction. Action needed on health care access and affordability.  

April 4, 2017

MADISON – Today, in a Special Session of the Wisconsin State Assembly, Representative Lisa Subeck (D-Madison) supported a package of legislation to further address the opioid epidemic in Wisconsin but voiced concerns about the majority party’s failure to address the larger issue of access to quality, affordable healthcare.

“The opioid epidemic in Wisconsin is a crisis worth tackling, and the legislation passed by the Assembly today is a step in the right direction,” said Rep. Subeck.  “Before we all give ourselves a big bi-partisan pat on the back, it is important to recognize that Republicans have failed to show any willingness, though, to address the bigger issue of affordable health care. We will not solve our opioid epidemic or any other significant health crisis until Republicans put politics aside and follow the lead of 31 other states that have accepted federal funding to expand Medicaid.”

By accepting federal Medicaid expansion funds and expanding BadgerCare, Wisconsin could substantially increase access to treatment services for people with substance abuse disorders.  More than 1.2 million people in the 31 states that have already expanded Medicaid are now able to obtain needed treatment.  Expanded health care access would not only provide access to treatment but also to critical preventative care, including the ability to regularly see a physician who can ensure appropriate medications are prescribed and being taken as directed.

By the end of June, Wisconsin will have forsaken $700 million in federal funding that could have been used to help Wisconsin address the opioid epidemic and access to other health care services. Barring legislative action to accept Medicaid expansion funds, that amount will grow to over $1 billion by June, 2019.

“Small steps matter, but Wisconsin’s opioid epidemic will not go away until we take decisive action to expand access to preventative health care and addiction treatment,” Rep. Subeck said.  “That is why I – and many of my Democratic colleagues – called on our Republican colleagues during today’s floors session to accept federal Medicaid expansion funds and seize this critical opportunity to expand access to quality and affordable treatment and prevention options.”