Opioid Tax – Floated Again – Revival of Pay-for-Pain Proposal?

Back in May 2016, I wrote a blog post (here) about a budgeting proposal put forth by Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia that would have financed opioid treatment programs by a tax on the opioids themselves.  This would eventually have placed higher purchase costs on the patients that needed the drugs.  Well, now, there seems to be a revival of sorts in H.R. 3254.  “Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) introduced H.R. 3254.  This legislation would ‘impose an excise tax on opioid manufacturers, to make the funds collected through such tax available for opioid (including heroin) abuse prevention and treatment programs, and for other purposes.’”

While I outlined my views on the Manchin budget proposal, I feel the same about this proposed piece of legislation.  It will lead to higher costs for patients in pain and, thus the moniker “Pay-for-Pain” that was used in the first post stands has been applied to this current proposed legislation. We do need to do something about the opioid epidemic, but, in my opinion, placing that burden on patients that do not abuse drugs and are in intractable pain is not the answer.  Proposing a tax on the manufacturer really means higher prices for the drugs.

Society, as a whole, must take responsibility for the opioid addiction and abuse problem and that is what our general tax dollars are supposed to be used for, taking care of society.  Cutting waste and fraud, and using our tax dollars responsibly is something I think we all agree needs to be accomplished to make the best use of our resources, and tax increases (whenever they occur) should be the last resort.