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Repealing Obamcare would cut $5.5 billion per year in funding for fighting the opioid abuse epidemic, according to new research touted by Senate Democrats trying to save the law.

Democrats said that repealing the law without a replacement would endanger the fight against opioid abuse, a battle that has received significant bipartisan support in Congress. The statements come the same day the Senate plans a series of votes on a budget resolution that would start the effort to repeal Obamacare.

“Repealing the Affordable Care Act without a replacement will not only cause 184,000 West Virginians to lose their coverage, but would also cause those struggling with addiction to lose their treatment,” said Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., whose state has been hit hard by the epidemic.

“The Republican obsession with repealing the Affordable Care Act without a replacement plan is deeply irresponsible and this report confirms that the consequences for those struggling with opioid addiction are deadly serious,” added Sen. Bob Casey, R-Pa.

Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Angus King, I-Maine, Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, joined the announcement.

The new research is from Harvard and New York universities and points to the holes in coverage if Obamacare is repealed without a replacement. Congressional Republicans currently plan to repeal the law immediately but leave it intact for a few years while a GOP replacement is crafted and implemented. However, opposition is mounting to that plan.

The new research notes that because of Obamacare’s marketplaces and Medicaid expansion, about 1.8 million people with mental illnesses and substance abuse get treated. That accounts for nearly $5.5 billion in treatment each year.

“The marketplaces account for the care of about 554,000 people in this group and the Medicaid expansion ensures that 1,286,500 people with these conditions are treated,” according to the study.

It also noted that several states rely on Medicaid to pay for evidence-based Medication Assisted Treatment programs to fight abuse.

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West Virginia, for example, relies on Medicaid to pay for about 45 percent of the MAT programs that use buprenorphine, an addiction treatment.

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