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Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster

Representing the 2nd District of New Hampshire

Kuster Discusses Impact of Cuts to Medicaid and Essential Benefits at Press Conference in Nashua

Monday, June 26, 2017 - 3:40pm

*Kuster highlights access to mental health, substance misuse services**

**New Dartmouth-Hitchcock study released today explores correlation between opioid prescribing and mental illness**

(Nashua, NH) – Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02), co-chair of the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force, held a press conference at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Nashua to discuss the importance of maintaining treatment services under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Kuster highlighted the negative impact that repeal of the ACA would have on access to mental health and substance use treatment services. The call comes following a new Dartmouth-Hitchcock study that explores the relationship between mental illness and opioid prescribing.

She was joined by Nashua Fire Chief Steven Galipeau; John Broderick, Senior Director of Public Affairs at Dartmouth-Hitchcock; Dr. Brian Sites of Dartmouth-Hitchcock, and Annette Escalante, Vice President of Keystone Hall treatment center, among others. Dr. Sites recently authored a groundbreaking study detailing the extent of opioid prescribing for people with mental illness.

“With the intense political debate going on in Washington over healthcare, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that this is ultimately about real people,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “The Affordable Care Act gave Granite Staters access to healthcare, and it guaranteed that essential benefits would be covered in their plans. The importance of having access to mental health services and substance use treatment cannot be overstated. Sadly, the Republican healthcare bills would strip the requirement that these services be included in coverage. We know there are improvements that can be made to our current system, but we can’t do this at the expense of those who need this care the most.”

“Because of the vulnerable nature of patients with mental illness, such as their susceptibility for opioid dependency and abuse, this finding warrants urgent attention to determine if the risks associated with such prescribing are balanced with therapeutic benefits,” said Dr. Sites of his study.

“There are countless families within our communities that are touched by this crisis, and it is critically important that we do not paint anyone suffering from a mental health disorder with a broad brush,” said Broderick. “But this data provides another tool in the tool kit, as we collectively combat two of the most pressing public health and safety issues facing our state.”