To Mark Publicker, a doctor in Portland, Maine, who practices addiction medicine, it's a clear case of discrimination. You wouldn't deprive a diabetic of insulin. You wouldn't stop giving hypertension drugs to a patient with high blood pressure after successful treatment. You wouldn't hold back a statin from a patient with high cholesterol.
Yet Publicker's patients face severe limitations on the amount and duration of medicines they take to fight their addictions to pain pills. And the consequences of those policies by Medicaid and private insurers are at least as dire as they would be for those with other serious ailments if they were denied proven treatments, he said.
"People will die," Publicker said.