December 1, 2017

As politicians pledge solutions to the opioid epidemic, advocates say the key will be money [Tampa Bay Times]

This post was last updated on September 10, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.
On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

Justine Griffin of the Tampa Bay Times writes:

“The opioid epidemic has grabbed the spotlight of late, with state and national leaders promising action.

Gov. Rick Scott pledged in September to push for tighter prescription rules and budget $50 million for treatment and beefed up law enforcement. A month later, President Trump declared the epidemic a public health emergency and outlined some possible ways to fight addiction and make certain drugs less available.

But local advocates, medical professionals and researchers who work every day with those affected by opioid addiction are hesitant to celebrate until they see meaningful action.

‘We certainly want to commend the governor that he’s recognizing that he needs to make a larger commitment to combat this epidemic,’ said Anne Swerlick with the Florida Policy Institute [emphasis added] in Tallahassee. ‘But both on the fiscal and policy side, the state has not opted to expand Medicaid, which would be leveraging millions of dollars to provide substance abuse programs for people in need.’

She worries that much of the $50 million Scott talked about would go to law enforcement, ‘which isn’t the same as providing people coverage for programs that have been proven to help.’

Scott’s office says the money would go toward statewide drug treatment, counseling and the Florida Violent Crime and Drug Control Council, a program launched in 1993 to help local law enforcement agencies with violent crime or drug investigations.”

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