Part-Time Toomey: Senator Largely Missing in Fight Against Abuse and Addiction

PHILADELPHIA, PA — A bipartisan group of elected officials, including three of Pat Toomey’s colleagues in the Senate, will be testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning. They will be discussing the heroin and prescription drug abuse epidemic gripping much of America — including the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This is a reminder of the need for congressional support for prevention and treatment to help mitigate a crisis that is ravaging too many communities. It’s also a reminder that while Senator Toomey may portray himself as sympathetic to this issue when he’s up for re-election, his record tells a different story.

Toomey’s background as an ideological hard-liner has resulted in him supporting a budget that would have deeply cut funds to substance abuse programs. By supporting the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, Toomey effectively supported ending consumer protections that compel insurers to cover mental health and substance abuse treatment like regular medical care. And in December, Toomey voted against a spending package that called for increased opioid abuse prevention initiatives.

“Senator Pat Toomey knows he’s in the fight of his political life and he has consistently attempted to paper over his record of voting against the interests of Pennsylvania,” said Preston Maddock, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. “On the scourge of heroin and prescription drug abuse, it’s no different. Toomey never tells the full story about his time in Washington.”



Toomey Voted For FY 2014 Ryan Budget Plan That Threatened Major Cuts To Substance Abuse Programs. “Major health and environment programs threatened with large cuts under the Ryan budget include: […] Mental health and substance abuse services. These grants help states prevent and treat alcohol and drug abuse and provide community mental health services to adults and children with serious mental illness. In 2008, over two million individuals attended substance abuse facilities that received federal funding; over six million received federally supported mental health services.” [Center On Budget And Policy Priorities, 3/27/13; CQ, 3/21/13; S.Amdt. 433 to S.Con.Res. 8, Vote 46, 3/21/13]


Toomey Supports Repeal Of The Affordable Care Act, Which Would Jeopardize Substance Abuse And Coverage:

  • Affordable Care Act Required Insurers To Cover. “Coverage thus expanded, the ACA then specifically addresses addiction by regulating what health benefits insurance plans must cover. Or, as Heller puts it, ‘Now you have health coverage, which is step one. Step two is, will that health insurance pay for treatment?’ And the ACA represents a massive step forward in getting insurance plans to cover addiction treatment. First, starting this year, the legislation bars insurers from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions—including substance abuse. But perhaps the most important changes come from the ACA’s expansion of parity rules. In brief, ‘parity’ means that insurance plans must cover mental health and substance abuse treatment at the same level as regular medical care.” [Huffington Post, 3/4/14]
  • Affordable Care Act Made Substance Abuse Treatment An Essential Health Benefit, Requiring Insurers To Cover The Full Spectrum Of Disorder. “Under the ACA, substance abuse treatment will also become part of primary care, and will be focused more on prevention. Substance abuse treatment will also be considered an ‘essential service,’ meaning health plans are required to provide it. They must treat the full spectrum of the disorder, including people who are in the early stages of substance abuse. ‘There will be more prevention, early intervention and treatment options,’ he said. ‘The result will be better, and less expensive, outcomes.’” [Partnership For Drug-Free Kids, 2/26/13]
  • Partnership For Drug-Free Kids: “Affordable Care Act To Provide Substance Abuse Treatment To Millions Of New Patients.” “Dr. McLellan reported that 23 million American adults suffer from substance abuse or dependence—about the same number of adults who have diabetes. An additional 60 million people engage in ‘medically harmful’ substance use, such as a woman whose two daily glasses of wine fuels growth of her breast cancer. The new law will allow millions more people to receive treatment, including those whose substance abuse is just emerging.” [Partnership For Drug-Free Kids,2/26/13]


When Asked About Expanding Medicaid Under The Affordable Care Act, Toomey Said He Would “Have A Hard Time Expanding And Accepting Obamacare” If He Was Governor. CAVUTO: “Alright, this is an Alamo issue for Republicans. I understand that. But it’s black and white for a lot to you guys too, right? So the governors like Kasich in Ohio and Christie in New Jersey that do take federal funding for Medicaid to expand, on their own are, but not Obamacare per se. Are they just as pregnant, just as little bit pregnant?” TOOMEY: “You know I’m not gonna pass judgment on the decision they have to make.” CAVUTO: “Go ahead, please do.” TOOMEY: “No, but I’m not sure and I’m not familiar with the circumstances in Ohio or New Jersey for that matter. Those are specific states.” CAVUTO: “If you were governor of Pennsylvania would you take the money?” TOOMEY: “I think I’d have a hard time expanding and accepting Obamacare.” [YouTube, Senator Pat Toomey, 12/3/13; FOX, Your World With Cavuto, 12/3/13] (VIDEO)


2015: Toomey Voted Against Additional Funding For Substance Abuse Prevention, Opioid Abuse Prevention Initiatives.In December 2015, Toomey voted against the omnibus funding bill that contained additional funding for substance abuse prevention and opioid abuse prevention initiatives. [HR 2029, Vote 339, 12/18/15; National Council for Behavior Health, 12/17/15]