Asked & Answered: The President on Making Sure Americans Can Get Lifesaving Treatment

This is the latest post in our “Asked and Answered” series, in which we periodically feature an exchange between the President or a Senior Administration Official and an American who wrote him. If you'd like to write the President yourself, you can do so here.

Today President Obama responded to a letter from a Pennsylvania mother who wrote that access to treatment had kept her son alive and put him on the road to recovery from a heroin use disorder. Joan Newcomb of Harrisburg wrote that her 22-year-old son was able to stay on her insurance and access this lifesaving treatment because of the Affordable Care Act.

The President wrote, “I want to make sure everyone with an opioid use disorder has the same opportunity. That is why I have continued to call on Congress to provide the $1.1 billion increase in funding in my budget to help ensure that Americans who want treatment can get it… We will continue to use all of our available tools to combat this epidemic, but we need Congress to act now.”

The Obama Administration has been urging Congress to quickly pass legislation that provides much-needed funding to help provide treatment to all Americans who want it.

More and more people are joining the President's call for action. Just this past week, around 150 national, state and local organizations, including the National Governors Association, called on Congress to provide funding toward fighting this epidemic. And two-thirds of the Senate voted to call for more funding.

You can read both letters below:


Read Joan's letter to the President:

Joan Newcomb's letter to the President

From: Joan Newcomb
Submitted: 3/1/2016 4:05 PM EST

Message: President Obama I wanted to take a moment to thank you for the Affordable Care Act. My son, a 22 year old heroin addict in recovery for one year, is alive today because of this change you fought for. I was able to keep him on my insurance despite him not attending college. During our battle of his disease of addiction over the past four years — he was able to get into rehab over 10 times and his life was saved. He is now working 40-50 hours a week, renting an apartment with other young people in recovery, adding to the economy and paying taxes.

I will continue to express my support of this Act that had a huge personal impact on my family. I am frustrated by the continued attacks on its benefits. So many people want to end it–apparently they haven't faced a life and death situation. Heroin addiction is a real threat to our upcoming generations. It kills our children and weakens the whole family.

Your faithful supporter
Joan Newcomb

The President’s response to Joan:

The President's response to Joan Newcomb

President Barack Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
June 20, 2016

 

Ms. Joan Newcomb

 

Dear Joan:

 

Thank you for writing to share your son's story with me and to let me know how the Affordable Care Act has helped your family. I have been deeply moved by the stories of individuals and families like yours whose lives have been affected by the opioid epidemic.

 

It's clear how supportive your family has been of your son and I'm glad affordable health care helped him get the treatment he needs. I want to make sure everyone with an opioid use disorder has the same opportunity. That is why I have continued to call on Congress to provide the $1.1 billion to increase in funding in my budget to help ensure that Americans who want treatment can get it. This funding would expand access to treatment services and provide incentives for treatment providers to practice in the communities that need them most. These new investments would also build on the steps my Administration has taken to expand prevention programs, increase access to the overdoes-reversal drug naloxone, improve prescribing practices for pain medication, and support targeted enforcement activities. We will continue to use all of our available tools to combat this epidemic, but we need Congress to act now. We can't wait for more families or communities to needlessly suffer the tragedy of overdose when treatment could be provided if we provided the funding.

 

Millions of Americans like your son have been helped because they got the treatment and care they needed. Please know that I will keep fighting to ensure that Americans who want treatment can get it and start the road to recovery. I hope you will keep making your voice heard and sharing your story.

Again, thank you for writing. I will continue to keep your family in my thoughts.

 

Sincerely, Barack Obama