A former Trump supporter whose son died of a heroin overdose now feels "betrayed"
GOP health care bill would end the requirement that addiction, mental health treatment be covered under Medicaid
Last year, Kraig Moss sold the equipment for his construction business in upstate New York and stopped making mortgage payments so he could follow Donald Trump on the campaign trail.
The amateur country crooner sang pro-Trump ditties while strumming a guitar emblazoned with Trump campaign stickers, earning him the moniker “Trump Troubadour.”
International media dubbed him “the voice of unheard America.”
But now, Moss refuses to play the guitar with the Trump decorations. He’s soured on the President because of the newly proposed Republican health care bill.
That legislation, which the president supports, could result in dramatic cuts in addiction treatment services.
Three years ago, Moss found his son, Rob, dead in his bed from a heroin overdose. He was 24.
“The bill is an absolute betrayal of what Trump represented on the campaign trail,” he said. “I feel betrayed.”
Moss feels it personally.
Last year, at a campaign rally in Iowa, Trump reached out and spoke directly to Moss about Rob’s death.
“In all fairness to your son, it’s a tough thing. Some very, very strong people have not been able to get off (heroin),” Trump called out to Moss in the crowd. “The biggest thing we can do in honor of your son … we have to be able to stop it.”
When Moss became emotional, Trump comforted him.
“I know what you went through. And he’s a great father. I can see it. And your son is proud of you. Your son is proud of you,” Trump said. “I’ll bet he was a great boy.”
Several times on the campaign trail, Trump vowed to increase services for people facing addiction.
“We will help all of those people so seriously addicted. We’ll get them assistance,” he told the crowd at a campaign event in New Hampshire in October.
Moss trusted Trump.
“I truly believe from the heart that (Trump) is going to do everything he can. He’s going to create treatment centers for the kids,” he said last year.
But last week, Moss read about the proposed American Health Care Act. The Republican bill would end the Obamacare requirement that addiction services and mental health treatment be covered under Medicaid in the 31 states that expanded the health care program – which include Moss’ home state of New York.
“This bill would devastate efforts to address the opioid crisis,” said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, director of the Bloomberg American Health Initiative at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “There’s no question this legislation in the House of Representatives would cost American lives.”
At a CNN town hall event last week, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was asked about the bill’s provisions for opioid treatment.
He responded that state governors had “wonderful ideas about how to address it” but that they felt “hamstrung by the federal government.”
“There are wonderful ways if we keep the focus on the patient – not the government, but on the patient,” he said.
Moss looks back on his days on the campaign trail, on how he sold his trucks to finance the trip, how he sang his heart out and went from restaurant to restaurant to hand out “Donald Trump for President” CDs.
“I did a lot to promote his candidacy,” he said. “Now, I wish I had never sold my equipment.”
But he doesn’t like to think about regrets. He’s looking to the future.
Earlier this month, more than 300 people showed up in 6-degree weather for a fundraiser Moss organized in his son’s memory.
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He raised $3,000 for a local drug treatment center, but he said the greatest gift of the evening was that people who’d lost loved ones to drug addiction came together and comforted one another.
“We all felt less alone,” he said.