Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Poll Analyses
Share on Facebook 24 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 5/27/19

My comprehensive plan to end the opioid crisis

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages) (View How Many People Read This)   1 comment
Author 53610
Message Elizabeth Warren
Become a Fan
  (26 fans)

From Medium

The Opioid Crisis.
The Opioid Crisis.
(Image by YouTube, Channel: The Great Courses Plus)
  Details   DMCA

Life expectancy in the United States dropped again in 2017, part of the longest sustained decline in a century -- one largely driven by the opioid epidemic. More than 685,000 Americans have died from a drug overdose in the United States this century, and it's getting worse. In 2017, that number was 70,000 people, the highest year on record, and the majority of those deaths were due to opioids. Emergency room visits for opioid overdoses have skyrocketed. Children have lost their parents. And only a small percentage of those suffering ever receive the treatment they need.

The crisis has also severely impacted communities of color, exacerbated by existing health disparities. For example, in 2017 the number of opioid-related deaths was 692 in Baltimore, almost as high as West Virginia, 833 -- the state with the highest death rate in the country -- with most deaths occurring in the black community.

This is not the first time our country has faced a national public health crisis of great magnitude. When deaths from HIV/AIDS grew rapidly in the 1980s, our country's medical system was ill-equipped to respond. In 1990, Congress passed the Ryan White CARE Act, which finally provided significant new, guaranteed funding to help state and local governments combat the growing epidemic and provided a safety net for those living with the disease. A similar national mobilization is needed to confront the opioid epidemic today.

That's why in partnership with Rep. Cummings of Baltimore, today I'm rolling out the CARE Act -- a comprehensive plan to end the opioid crisis by providing the resources needed to begin treating this epidemic like the public health crisis that it is.

A Comprehensive Plan to End the Opioid Crisis

The CARE Act proposal is modeled on the Ryan White CARE Act, providing resources directly to first responders, public health departments, and communities on the front lines of this crisis -- so that they have the resources to provide prevention, treatment, and recovery services for those who need it most.

Under the CARE Act, states and communities will receive $100 billion in federal funding over the next 10 years -- because that's what's needed to make sure every single person gets the treatment they need. Here's how that breaks down each year:

  • $4 billion for states, territories, and tribal governments;
  • $2.7 billion for the hardest hit counties and cities, including $1.4 billion to counties and cities with the highest levels of overdoses;
  • $1.7 billion for public health surveillance, research, and improved training for health professionals;
  • $1.1 billion for public and nonprofit entities on the front lines, including those working with underserved populations and workers at high risk for addiction, and to support expanded and innovative service delivery of treatment, recovery, and harm reduction services;
  • $500 million to expand access to naloxone and provide this life-saving overdose reversal drug to first responders, public health departments, and the public.
Resources would be used to support the whole continuum of care, from early intervention for those at risk for addiction, to harm reduction for those struggling with addiction, to long-term support services for those in recovery. Along with addiction treatment, the CARE Act would ensure access to mental health services and help provide critical wraparound services like housing support and medical transportation for those who need them.

But the CARE Act doesn't just provide resources to communities, it also works to strengthen our addiction treatment infrastructure -- demanding states use Medicaid to its fullest to tackle the crisis, expanding access to medication-assisted treatment, and ensuring treatment programs and recovery residences meet high standards.

Money, Power, and Accountability

The ongoing opioid crisis is about health care. But it's about more than that. It's about money and power in America -- who has it, and who doesn't. And it's about who faces accountability in America -- and who doesn't.

If the CARE Act becomes law, every single person would get the care they need. Scores of legislators in Congress have signed on to support this plan. The nation's top experts on the crisis stand behind it. It spells out in detailed terms exactly how funding would get to the communities that need it most. We should pass it -- not in two years, not after the 2020 elections -- but immediately.

If we don't, it will be because politicians who have spent years wringing their hands about this crisis aren't willing to do what's necessary to end it. Yes, getting everyone the treatment they need costs money. But I have a plan to pay for it: my ultra millionaire tax on the richest 75,000 families in America.

Here's how it works. If you have more than $50 million, we're going to ask you to pay a tax of 2 cents per dollar on every dollar after your fifty-millionth and first. It raises $2.75 trillion over the next 10 years -- enough to pay for my plans to cancel student loan debt and provide universal free college, fully fund universal childcare, and end the opioid epidemic. And guess what -- we'd still have nearly a trillion dollars left over.

Too many folks in Washington care more about protecting the wealthy from paying their fair share than they do about solving these kinds of urgent national problems. I want to change that.

This week, I'll visit Kermit, West Virginia, a small town located along the Kentucky-West Virginia border. Kermit has been hard-hit by the opioid epidemic -- and not by accident. Over a period of just a few years, this town of only 400 people was flooded with approximately 13 million prescription opioid pills, all delivered to a single local pharmacy -- that's more than 30,000 pills per resident. The companies shipping these pills repeatedly disregarded requirements to report suspicious patterns of behavior, and the state Board of Pharmacy failed to enforce its own rules.

Now Kermit is fighting back with a lawsuit against the pharmacy and five wholesale drug distributors who exacerbated the crisis. It's just one of many similar lawsuits lodged by towns, counties, and states across the country -- and I hope they win. But the fact that any of this happened in the first place speaks to something rotten in our system.

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

 

Rate It | View Ratings

Elizabeth Warren Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Elizabeth Warren was assistant to the president and a special adviser to the Treasury secretary on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She single-handedly set us this bureau, putting in place the building blocks for an agency that will (more...)
 

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

STAY IN THE KNOW
If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
Name
Email
   (Opens new browser window)
 

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Elizabeth Warren: This is Democracy

Chris Christie at the Republican National Convention

We Don't Run This Country for Corporations

Without rules, financial markets don't work

Wall Street isn't happy with us

Stop rigging system against small business

To View Comments or Join the Conversation: