Medicaid cuts in Senate bill could have dire effects at Ohio opioid clinic

AKRON, Ohio -- For the last 15 months, 33-year-old Eric Hinman has been coming to Oriana House, a drug treatment center, to help end an opioid addiction that could kill him.

"You go from feeling dope sick to wanting to kill yourself to living life again," he said.

Hinman and Leah Cohen, also a recovering heroin addict, credit their progress to counseling and monthly injections of a drug called Vivitrol, which costs $1,200 a dose. They get it for free because, like 2,500 other patients there, they qualify for Obamacare's expanded Medicaid program.

"Once my addiction took hold and I quit my job… I was uninsured. I had nothing," Cohen said. "So without Medicaid expansion… I probably would be dead."

But a proposal in the Senate rolls back Medicaid expansion, and that could potentially cut the treatment center's Medicaid funding by 75 percent.

"Ninety-eight percent of our folks weren't eligible for Medicaid and now 98 percent are," said Jim Lawrence, CEO of Oriana House.

The Medicaid expansion "allowed us to get people into treatment, which was key. Otherwise they would be out on waiting lists, people would overdose," he said.

The opioid epidemic claimed at least 4,100 lives in Ohio last year -- 308 in Akron.

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Leah Cohen

CBS News

When asked what she says to politicians thinking of cutting back on Medicaid, Cohen said, "Please don't do it."

"You're going to have the blood of a lot of innocent people on your hands," she said.

The body count is so overwhelming in Akron that the medical examiner's office had to call in a mobile morgue parked outside its building to help house victims. It will be in place through the July 4 weekend, when another surge in deaths is expected.