Florida's opioid epidemic continues to claim thousands of lives. While substantial new federal grants have been coming to Florida to combat the epidemic, they are time limited and fall short of meeting the overwhelming need. Ongoing, guaranteed funding is essential to support an array of affordable prevention, treatment and recovery services across the state.
Noticeably absent from Florida's approach is Medicaid expansion — a vital, proven tool for combating the epidemic. A growing body of research shows that expansion increases access to treatment, saves lives and allows states to maximize state and federal resources already at play to eradicate this epidemic.
Florida lawmakers’ ongoing refusal to expand Medicaid makes no fiscal or public health sense.
While the Florida Legislature has appropriated some new general revenue for combating the opioid epidemic, the source of most new funding is through time-limited federal grants due to expire in 2020.
But there are significant shortcomings to grant funding, which is not nearly enough to meet the need. Plus, such funding is not guaranteed from year to year — this makes providers hesitant to expand services and make longer term investments in new treatment sites.
Once federal grant funding ends, Florida will face a significant "funding cliff," presenting a large budget challenge for the state Legislature. Medicaid expansion would fill this budget hole and increase the state's capacity to meet the needs of residents.