WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin has announced a bill that would tax opioid-based medications to raise revenues for drug treatment.
The proposal would tax all opioid-based medications at a rate of one cent per milligram, and Manchin noted between $1.2 billion and $2 billion could be raised as a consequence of the bill.
The Lifeboat (budget opiate addiction treatment) Act would provide a permanent revenue stream for addiction treatment across the country.
The revenues would be used to reenforce and provide further funding for existing drug treatment networks as well as construction of new treatment centers across the country.
Manchin explained he does not see the bill as a tax but as a treatment; however, he noted there would be opposition from other lawmakers who have signed Grover Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge in which they promised not to raise taxes for any reason.
“We need our republican friends on the other side of the isle. I would say to many of them, that if they’ve taken the tax pledge…This is a treatment for an illness of epidemic proportions. We just passed $1.1 billion last week to fight zika [virus]. We spent $500 million on Ebola. Those were things we thought might happen. We’ve got a full blown epidemic that has killed 200,000 Americans and we haven’t done a thing.”
When asked if the bill would unfairly punish people who rely on opioids for management of their chronic pain, Manchin responded by explaining illicit use of opioids already costs the insurance industry an estimated $72 billion a year and stated he hoped more people and their doctors would be willing to explore non-opioid options for management of their pain.
Owen Wells is a reporter for Civitas Media. He can be reached at 304-752-6950 ext. 1729 or by email at [email protected]