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Thursday - January 18, 2018 6:41 pm

Sen. Ron Johnson says report shows abuse of federal programs contribute to drug crisis

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(AP file photo) (AP file photo)

A Wisconsin senator is calling out the federal government for contributing to the nation's opioid crisis.

During a senate committee hearing Wednesday, Republican Ron Johnson blamed programs operated by Medicaid, Medicare and the Veterans Administration for helping to fuel what some have called a drug addiction epidemic.

Many of the issues, says Johnson, coming from criminal abuse of those programs, especially Medicaid.

"I'm not making the claim that this is just because of medicaid expansion," Johnson said. "Obviously, there's more dollars available through medicaid expansion.

"HHS had a study that we had to extract form them showing that there may be a difference between medicaid expansions states versus non-expansion states."

In his new report, Johnson said he found hundreds of cases of criminal diversion of drugs paid for through government funds and often involving crooked doctors.

Johnson laid out the case of how Medicaid funding especially has helped to fuel the epidemic.

"I'm not saying that medicaid doesn't help an awful lot of people," Johnson said, "the dollars used for treatment haven't helped, I'm told, numbers of people. I'm not saying this is primary cause."

The Republican said criminal drug diversion problems also exist through Medicare and the VA, and that Medicaid isn't entirely to blame.

"What we are certainly saying is this is an unintended consequence," Johnson said. "It's certainly a contributing factor. It maybe enables something that maybe shouldn't be enabled. It's a very serious problem that has to be taken a look at.

Johnson thinks it's hard to deny that a diversion problem exists when his report shows substantial criminal activity involving complex schemes to get the drugs and sell them on the streets, including those crooked doctors.

Mitch Reynolds

Mitch Reynolds is the News Director at Midwest Family Broadcasting. He covers the internecine agonies of La Crosse city hall. He really likes basketball.

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