From ClaimAid Executive Vice President, Beth Overmyer,

The debate on how to fund the escalating costs of healthcare coverage, let alone providing access to healthcare, causes medical providers who interact with the “vulnerable population” to pause. The “vulnerable population” isn’t just a collection of data points; they’re our neighbors, coworkers and friends. We must consider the policies today as they relate to providing healthcare coverage through Medicaid for children, schools, parents and caretakers.

There’s Karen, struggling to keep her job, who needs diabetes medication. Derek, with a severe toothache, desperately needs a root canal that he can’t afford. He visits the ER so he can continue working and stay employed. Then Joe, recently released from jail seeking drug addiction treatment, who wants to support his kids and keep sober. Lastly, there is 10-year-old Kevin, who needs occupational, physical and speech therapy, due to learning impairments caused by being born addicted to drugs due to the opioid epidemic.

Sadly, stories surrounding the opioid epidemic are becoming commonplace. Medical providers are caring for infants experiencing the extreme pain of withdrawal. More relatives are taking over care-giving duties due to addicted parents being unable to provide parental care, which will result in major social and economic consequences.

HIP 2.0 and expanded Children’s Health Coverage Program has resulted in an increase in health coverage enrollment leading to positive outcomes. Medicaid enrollment has increased 28.7 percent the last three years, and currently covers 2 out of 5 children. In June, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported Indiana has seen a decline in infant/child mortality rates, improvements in child long-term health, educational gains, and financial security improvements among individuals utilizing coverage.

Maintaining coverage is essential, given recent reports that one in four newborns are born addicted to opioids, such as heroin. Data continues to evaluate lifelong affects endured by children born with addiction. The likelihood of these children needing additional resources in schools like, Individualized Education Programs, medication, behavioral health treatment and therapies is substantial. We must be conscious that these services will increase dramatically due to the 400 percent growth of youth victims.

Addiction doesn’t impact one person or family, it affects entire communities. We must address the problem regardless of opinions surrounding addiction. The cost of addiction is far higher than the cost of prevention. Let’s be proactive in our approach, which will be vital for the long-term health of the community and promoting a more cost-effective course of action.