December 1, 2017

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

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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