Governors ask Congress for more $$ for opioid epidemic

Governors ask Congress for more $$ for opioid epidemic

Two State Governors from opposite coasts told a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee recently that much more funding is needed to help them tackle the opioid epidemic.

Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland and Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon briefed the committee on what were the major problems faced in their respective states. Perhaps not surprisingly, many issues were very similar.

Money: the big issue

The $6 billion in the 2019 budget earmarked for the opioid crisis is a start, but “it's a drop in the bucket compared to what we actually need,” said Gov. Hogan.

According to MedPage Today, Hogan said that Maryland has already spent $500 million fighting the opioid epidemic alone.

“Six billion stretched across the country is not going to go very far,” Hogan said. “It's the long-term recovery support services that we're going to need a way to pay for.”

In Maryland, fentanyl is the primary opioid driving fatal overdoses, usually mixed with heroin. But now, deaths from fentanyl-laced cocaine are also increasing, and are affecting more younger people across the state. The governor also said more flexibility at the state level is needed in allocating how federal money is spent.

Different story in Oregon

Whereas the main problem in Maryland are opioids like heroin and fentanyl, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown described a slightly different story for her Pacific Northwest state. Half the state is battling opioids, she said, but the other half is coping with a methamphetamine issue.

The governor stressed the need to make overdose-reversal drugs like naloxone more affordable for those overdosing on opioids. But the battle against meth calls for a different set of actions.

Brown told MedPage Today that Oregon has been able to provide naloxone to first responders because of “pooling efforts” with nearby states that reduce drug costs, but that Oregon still struggles to pay for the drug because its cost keeps rising. She said the federal government needs to provide more resources to buy naloxone, or to purchase the drug at the federal level and supply it to the states.

She also called for more sharing of epidemic data between states, more state flexibility with federal funding, and said that the response to addiction must be “non-punitive.”

Comprehensive healthcare coverage, particularly for behavioral and substance use disorder treatment, is also a priority. She said that 74 percent of people in treatment for opioid abuse are enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan, either through the exchanges or through Medicaid.

“If you repeal the Affordable Care Act, if you no longer fund it, how do those people access treatment? They don't. They end up on the streets, they end up in our prisons,” she told MedPage Today.

Asked by the HELP committee how new funding would be spent, Hogan cited naloxone as the first priority. More public education was also needed, along with expanded medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

Hogan also said targeted federal enforcement efforts need to be expanded, and stressed the need to pass the Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act which blocks synthetic drugs such as fentanyl from entering the country.

If you or someone you care for is having a problem with substance abuse, don’t delay is seeking help. Call Novus Medical Detox Centers right away, and get the help you need now.

Start Your New Path to Sobriety Today!

    • Please enter your name.
    • This isn't a valid phone number.
    • Please enter your email address.
      This isn't a valid email address.
    • Please make a selection.
    • Please enter a message.