In efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), Rep. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) was willing and eager to undermine the fight against the growing opioid epidemic. He voted for a bill that would have resulted in 23 million people losing health insurance and could have made “substance-abuse treatment prohibitively expensive,” according to Business Insider.
“It’s unbelievable that in the middle of a crisis our legislators would even consider reducing access to insurance for those needing treatment for substance-use disorder,” said Gary Mendell, the CEO of Shatterproof, a national nonprofit working to end the opioid crisis.
Knight, who puts out flashy press releases touting his membership in the Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic, did the “unbelievable” — voting to reduce access to insurance in the midst of the opioid epidemic. When it came to a choice between standing up for his convictions or kowtowing to the whims of Paul Ryan, Knight chose to do the bidding of Ryan.
If that bill had become law (it was ultimately blocked by the Senate), Republicans would have “zero credibility” in trying to fix the crisis, because of how many people would be likely to lose access to treatment, according to Mendell.
Despite his complete lack of credibility, Knight recently bragged about voting for a spending bill that includes “several provisions to address the rising abuse of heroin and opioid drugs.”
Less than a year after voting for a health care bill which would have crippled the fight against opioids, Knight is seeking praise for backing a spending bill which would “help local communities assist those on the road to recovery.” Yet his own actions would have erected massive roadblocks to communities and individuals on the road to recovery.
One analysis showed that provisions in the Knight-backed bill would have increased the out-of-pocket costs for a treatment facility by as much as $14,000.
In the aftermath of his vote for the Republican bill, Knight was lambasted. At one town hall, a constituent said, “I feel that your vote to repeal Obamacare was a vote for political capital with [Speaker Paul] Ryan (R-WI) — not to help provide a good health care system for the citizens of this district. You represent the people of the 25th district of California; you do not represent the first district of Wisconsin!”
Across the country, the opioid epidemic is a serious public health issue. If Knight had it his way, there would ultimately be less funding and less assistance for those in need. His voting record speaks for itself.