Dayton mayor warns new healthcare bill could affect fight against drug epidemic

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley. (WDTN Photo)

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley warned the new healthcare bill could make the fight against the region’s opioid epidemic, even more difficult by eliminating much needed coverage for people battling substance abuse.

She joined mayors from seven other cities in calling on Congress to consider the impact the bill could have on the drug crisis.

So far this year, first responders in Dayton have responded to nearly 2,000 overdoses.

Whaley dubbed Dayton “ground zero” when it comes to the opioid epidemic

“From January to June first, the city of Dayton responded to 1,814 responses by police and fire for overdoses. Those are 1,814 people we work to get into treatment,” Whaley said.

“Without Medicaid expansion, there’s no place – absolutely no place – for them to go. It’s hard enough for us to try to be building a system in this epidemic, as our numbers continue to rise. But with no Medicaid, we would not be able to deal with this.”

She said thousands of people in Montgomery County rely on Medicaid to access addiction treatment.

If the new healthcare bill moves forward, she said, those thousands may not be able to get it.

“Halfway through the year, we are already at two deaths per day in Montgomery County,” she said.

“To take Medicaid away and to take healthcare away at this critical time and critical juncture while we’re dealing with what I view as important as a natural disaster in our community is wrong-headed and not helpful for the future of our community.”

She called on the Senate to “step up” and address what’s really important: how to lower costs and make healthcare more accessible.

She said Dayton is facing a life or death issue and the Senate needs to work to make the Affordable Care Act better, and not worse.

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