Opioid addiction and overdoses are costing state and federal governments billions of dollars in lost tax revenue, according to a new study.
When healthy Americans become addicted to opiates they tend to either drop out of the workforce, or die of an overdose – either way resulting in lost income and sales tax revenue for the government, according to the study published this week in the journal Medical Care.
From 2000-2016, state governments lost $11.8 billion in sales and income tax revenue, and the federal government lost $26 billion in income tax as a result of the epidemic, according to researchers at Pennsylvania State University behind the new report.
During the same period, 180,440 people died of opioid overdoses and 1.6 million left the workforce as a result of their addiction.
‘To the extent that various treatment programs help get people back on their feet and back in the labor force, this is something to consider for states and the federal government as a potential offset (of drug rehabilitation costs),’ lead author Joel Segel told DailyMail.com.
The decline in workforce participation varied dramatically by state from 2000-2016, with the highest number of addicts leaving their jobs in California (203,700), followed by Texas (121,200), New York (106,480) and Florida (88,130).
Opioid deaths also varied regionally during that period, with the most occurring in Florida (14,820), followed by California (13,860), New York (9,230), North Carolina (8,310), Tennessee (6,200) and Pennsylvania (6,100).
The combined cost of lost taxes due to opioid addiction and overdoses was highest in New York State, where it cost taxpayers $879 million from 2000-2016.
The second highest loss was in Illinois ($777.3 million), followed by Pennsylvania ($638.2 million), North Carolina ($615.9 million), Georgia ($579.5 million) and Virginia ($495 million).
‘This study highlights an important cost—lost tax revenue—that has not been included in prior analyses,’ researchers wrote.
‘Importantly, these represent costs that could be recouped, with the funds targeted towards a variety of public health or policy interventions, including prescription drug monitoring programs, improved access to treatment, greater availability of naloxone, or other options considered by state and federal governments and public health officials,’ they added.
An estimated 2.1 million Americans were addicted to opiates in 2016, and an estimated 64,000 people died of overdoses that year, the most recent for which data is available.
SOURCE: Daily Mai, Valerie Bauman