Medicaid and Opioids

North Carolina’s proponents of big government ought to stop and take a deep breath before continuing to push to expand Medicaid – because even the New York Times is raising caution flags.

The Times reported, last Thursday, that President Obama’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention has released a study reporting “an average of 39 percent” of the women of childbearing years on Medicaid filled an opioid prescription in a pharmacy each year from 2008 to 2012”.

Medicaid spends billions on prescription drugs but this goes far beyond a question of cost: “Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the C.D.C., described the numbers as ‘astonishing’ and said they presented a substantial risk for birth defects.”

The article continued: “Exposure to opioid painkillers increases the risks for major defects in the baby’s brain and spine, congenital heart defects and problems with the baby’s abdominal wall.”

And this problem isn’t just affecting the unborn, “Opioids are the single largest cause of overdose fatalities in the nation, with more than 16,000 deaths a year.” The most affected group in the survey is white Southerners.

“These are dangerous drugs that are addictive, and we are substantially overusing them,” Dr. Frieden said.

Now that’s a breathtaking example of broken politics: A government program set up to help poor children and pregnant mothers is actually harming both – while in Raleigh the push is on to expand the program.

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