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Media Covering Senate Health Care Debate, Opioid Addiction Crisis Turn to Faculty Experts

Professors Rob Field and Barry Furrow

June 29, 2017

As the U.S. Senate moves to repeal Obamacare and leave victims of the opioid drug epidemic and others vulnerable to a loss of health care coverage, members of the media have turned to Professor Robert Field and Professor Barry Furrow for insights.

The proposal floated by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would decimate Medicaid, Field said in an interview with 6ABC on June 26.

“Medicaid is going to be chopped dramatically,” Field said. “We’re not talking about back before Obamacare, we’re talking about going back before 1965 when Medicaid was created.”

Field noted in a June 23 interview on NBC10 that many people rely on Medicaid.

“Two thirds of nursing home patients are covered by Medicaid,” he said. “So if you’re not on Medicaid, chances are you’ve got a parent or a grandparent or an aunt or an uncle or you know someone who does.”

Contending that the wealthy stand to gain from tax cuts embedded in the GOP proposal, which would reduce mandated coverage, Furrow said in a June 23 interview with 6ABC that the law would have massive consequences for health care.

“You’re going to have a higher level of sickness, higher levels of cost that have to be absorbed,” Furrow said, adding that there will be “more disability that’s not being treated and a higher mortality rate.”   

On June 6, Field was interviewed on Wharton Business Radio on Sirius concerning a lawsuit filed by the Ohio attorney general against five pharmaceutical companies that manufacture opioid pain killers.  Field noted that the state of Mississippi and several counties, cities and Indian tribes in the Cherokee nation have filed similar suits.

“It’s a national problem,” Field said, predicting that more states will also sue the pharmaceutical companies. “It’s not just Ohio and Mississippi that have a problem.  It seems like they have a pretty strong case and they certainly have a public health crisis that needs to be addressed.”

At issue, Field explained, is whether the companies gave doctors and patients sufficient information about the side effects of opioid pain killers and whether their promotions adhered to FDA approvals for the medications’ use.  

The suits that have been filed have been modeled on the tobacco lawsuits of the 1990s, Field explained.

“I would think this is going to start a trend,” he said. “A lot of states are going to have elections for attorney general next year.”