As the Administration and the Congress consider health care reform and work to expand access to the 45 million Americans without coverage, it is worth noting that the largest amount of federal and state spending on the burden of substance abuse and addiction–$207.2 billion, or 58 percent””was for health care, and that health care is 74.1 percent of the federal shoveling up burden. With health care costs by far the biggest cost of shoveling up, for the Administration and Congress to attempt health care reform without providing for prevention and treatment of substance abuse and addiction is like trying to make a Reuben sandwich without corned beef and sauerkraut.
Some key 2005 findings of the report are:
* For every dollar federal and state governments spent to prevent and treat substance abuse and addiction, they spent $59.83 in public programs shoveling up its wreckage.
* If substance abuse and addiction were its own state budget category, it would rank second just behind spending on elementary and secondary education.
* If substance abuse and addiction were it own federal budget category, it would rank sixth, behind social security, national defense, income security, Medicare, and other health programs including the federal share of Medicaid.
* Federal and state governments spend more than 60 times as much to clean up the devastation substance abuse and addiction visits on children as they do on prevention and treatment for them.
This report is the second in CASA’s analysis of the impact of tobacco, alcohol and other drug abuse and addiction on government. Our first report, Shoveling Up: The Impact of Substance Abuse on State Budgets, was released in 2001 and was limited to state spending. Such spending has increased since CASA’s 2001 report. In 2005, states spent 15.7 percent of their budgets on substance abuse and addiction compared with 13.3 percent in 1998, up more than 18 percent.
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