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PPACA could overwhelm addiction treatment providers

PPACA could help 5.5 million uninsured people with addiction problems get health coverage. (CDC image/Debora Cartagena)
PPACA could help 5.5 million uninsured people with addiction problems get health coverage. (CDC image/Debora Cartagena)

CHICAGO (AP) — It has been six decades since doctors concluded that addiction was a disease that could be treated, but today the condition still dwells on the fringes of the medical community.

Only 1 cent of every health care dollar in the United States goes toward addiction, and few alcoholics and drug addicts receive treatment.

"Advocates just get so excited, but at some point, reality is going to hit and they'll find it's not all it was cracked up to be," said Josh Archambault of the Pioneer Institute, a nonpartisan public policy research center in Boston.

In the coming years, treatment programs and medical colleges will face pressure to ramp up to create a larger system.

Today, those without insurance include many lower- and middle-income people who don't get the benefit from an employer — businesses provide coverage for about 50 percent of Americans — don't qualify for Medicaid or Medicare and can't afford their own policies.

PPACA would provide subsidies to help many buy private coverage. The government is also pressing states to expand their Medicaid programs to include more working poor people. If 20 states expand their Medicaid programs — roughly the number now planning to do so — an additional 3.8 million prospective patients with addiction problems would get insurance, according to the AP analysis. If virtually all of the states eventually decide to expand, as federal officials predict, the ranks of the newly insured with addiction problems could reach 5.5 million.

Copyright 2016 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Nichole Morford

Nichole Morford
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