Medicaid/AHCCCS is helping fight the opioid crisis and saving Arizona money

For several years, Esther Saavedra was trapped in a vicious cycle of dependence. She first became addicted to prescription pills and later to heroin. It was an addiction that was taking over her life until she decided to seek help.

She entered a rehab program and began taking medications to help reduce her craving for heroin. It’s now been three years since she became drug free. Esther credits a big part of her recovery to AHCCCS.

“If it hadn’t been for the health insurance I have through AHCCCS, I would probably still be addicted to heroin,” she said.

Her health insurance covered the cost of the rehab program, which was a crucial part of her recovery, and the medications, which she is still taking today.

Esther’s life has improved tremendously since she quite heroin. She is now a mother of two – both of whom have health insurance through AHCCCS – and recently got a job at a behavioral health non-profit helping people struggling with addictions.

But with members of Congress considering cuts to programs like AHCCCS, she worries about how that could affect her.

“It would affect me greatly,” she said about the potential cuts. “I would have to debate on certain months whether I can pay for doctor’s appointments and my medication instead of paying for food or other bills.”

“And maybe I wouldn’t take my children to the doctor as much as I normally would want to because it would be too expensive,” she added. “Or maybe I wouldn’t get my medication because I couldn’t afford it that month.”

Without her medications, Esther runs the risk of relapsing and undoing the progress she has made. She said she shares her story so that members of Congress can understand the impact that cuts to AHCCCS would have on lives like hers.

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