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As a chemical dependency counselor, I have a front-row seat to the addiction epidemic affecting our community and communities across the country, and a front-row seat to the devastating, and sometimes fatal, lack of resources available to get people struggling with substance-use behaviors the help they want and need.

It is frustrating and disheartening to see our governor and legislators directing time and resources toward implementing drug testing for those in need of medical and food assistance, a program that has been proven costly and ineffective in the states that have attempted it, while Wisconsin’s medical assistance program has inadequate coverage for treatment of drug- and alcohol-use disorders.

Please join me in encouraging your representatives to push for funding for treatment for those on BadgerCare.

The barriers preventing folks from accessing the treatment they need to overcome their addictions and process the events and experiences that led them to numb themselves in the first place are often financial. Denying folks access to treatment by not offering coverage for the most vulnerable among us leads to more money spent in the long run covering emergency room visits, related medical problems, criminal justice costs and lost workplace productivity.

The greatest cost of all is the lives that are lost while wishing and waiting for help. Help is out there. Let’s help the people who need it get it by insisting that BadgerCare cover treatment for a disease that we all recognize as a growing problem in our community.

Joella Striebel, La Crosse

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