The Affordable Care Act: Providing Resources to Fight New Hampshire’s Opioid Epidemic

(Written by Meghan Farrell, Communications Coordinator, New-Futures)

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes critical provisions that have been instrumental in keeping New Hampshire healthy, like prohibiting health insurance companies from refusing coverage, mandating individual health insurance coverage, and providing financial assistance to those who have difficulty affording health care. Potentially the most crucial benefit that New Hampshire gained from the ACA, though, was the state’s ability to expand Medicaid coverage to low-income adults.
Since New Hampshire expanded Medicaid in 2014, more than 120,000 low-income Granite Staters have been able to access the healthcare they need and deserve. Currently, more than 50,000 of our state’s most vulnerable citizens have access to critical healthcare, including substance use disorder treatment services, thanks to the New Hampshire Health Protection Program (NHHPP), New Hampshire’s version of Medicaid expansion.

There is no doubt that New Hampshire’s opioid epidemic is the number one public health issue we are currently facing as a state. The epidemic resulted in the loss of almost 500 lives in 2016 and has cost New Hampshire approximately $2.3 billion annually.

Experts agree that the NHHPP is among the state’s most critical tools in combatting our devastating opioid epidemic, since it includes one of the most robust substance use disorder benefit arrays in the country. Specifically, the NHHPP, which has been created and funded in New Hampshire only because of the ACA, allows substance use disorder treatment and recovery in two very important ways:
  • Increasing New Hampshire’s treatment capacity: The NHHPP has more than doubled our state’s treatment capacity, with more than 11,000 Granite Staters utilizing their NHHPP coverage to access addiction treatment. Before Medicaid Expansion, New Hampshire had a treatment capacity of only 4,000 – 6,000. Luckily, when the crisis reached its height, the state was able to provide services to twice as many individuals as just two years earlier, thanks to the ACA.
  • Allowing access to drug court programs: Drug court programs have proven to be incredibly effective in helping those with substance use disorders enter recovery. In order to participate, those seeking treatment must pay for their services or have insurance coverage that does. Without the NHHPP, a large percentage of drug court participants who are now working and in recovery would have been unable to get the supports they needed.
Advocates, experts, and lawmakers all agree that we need innovative solutions to the opioid epidemic, which is dramatically affecting children, families, and individuals in the Granite State at alarming levels. The NHHPP, and as a result the ACA, is one of New Hampshire’s most effective and innovative solutions to this public health crisis. As a state, we have come too far in our fight against addiction to turn back now.
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