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Expand Medicaid To Improve Opioid Addiction Treatment, Cooper Says

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is calling for private companies to provide more robust health coverage and for the state to expand its Medicaid program as a way to combat the number of opioid overdoses in the state.

Cooper says the number of deaths by prescription opioid overdoses is declining, while deaths by non-prescription opioids, like heroin and fentanyl, remain high.

“We are making progress on the prescription side, but we still have so many people with substance use disorder out there who need treatment, who need help and that’s why we’ve launched an opioid action plan in our state because it’s unacceptable to lose four people a day to overdose," Cooper said Tuesday on WFAE's Charlotte Talks.

Cooper’s action plan, launched in July, aims to stem the flow of opioids onto the street, and making an overdose-reversing drug more widely available.

Cooper also called for lawmakers to expand Medicaid to help the state combat opioid addictions.

“We need to make sure every person has access to health insurance…and we need to push the private companies to make sure that their coverage is more comprehensive. We need to expand Medicaid in North Carolina to make sure that people get the treatment.”

Republican  leaders in the General Assembly have said they worry expansion of Medicaid would burden the state with debt. Critics say that stance has hurt the state in part because it’s kept low-income people from getting health insurance who don’t qualify for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.