Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and a coalition of U.S. mayors called on U.S. Senate Republicans to scrap their latest health care proposal, saying it does not do enough to address the nation’s opioid crisis.
De Blasio and six other mayors — all but one of them Democrats — held a teleconference call with reporters Wednesday to detail their objections to the Senate GOP health care bill.
They argued that the bill’s proposed cuts to Medicaid would force many recovering addicts out of drug treatment programs at a time when overdose rates are skyrocketing.
The city has 25,000 Medicaid recipients who are receiving some level of substance-abuse treatment, de Blasio said. Last year, about 1,100 city residents died from opioid-related overdoses, de Blasio said.
“Right now, Medicaid is the lifeline for so many people and if that’s taken away we’re just going to lose more people to opioids — we’re not going to have a place for them to turn to for help,” De Blasio said in the teleconference, which was organized by the nonpartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors.
On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) postponed a vote on the GOP health care bill due to insufficient support for the proposal among Republicans. An analysis released by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on Monday said 22 million Americans could lose their insurance coverage under the plan.
De Blasio said the delayed vote did not signal the bill is dead, and urged opponents to the measure to continue lobbying against it.
“ . . . The ballgame is far from over,” he said.
The lone Republican on the teleconference was John Giles, of Mesa, Arizona. Also on the call were the mayors of Anchorage, Alaska; Bangor, Maine; Dayton, Ohio; Reno, Nevada, and Huntington, West Virginia.