As opioids continue to ravage our state, the country seems to get one step closer finding a solution to this devastating crisis.
President Trump signed a 600 page bill to fight the opioid crisis into law on Wednesday.
The SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (or H.R. 6) will provide $8 billion this year to battle the addiction epidemic.
This bill will work towards expanding recovery centers, curb drug shipments, lift treatment restrictions, switch up Medicare and Medicaid, and free up new painkiller research.
Many items in the national bill are cloned from ideas from West Virginia, the state hardest hit. There will be more national care for drug addicted babies, modeled after Lily’s Place in Huntington. There wil be more quick response teams that treat overdoes, also modeled after that same city.
U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito says “This is a big milestone. It’s a conglomeration of a lot of great ideas, some of which are working in West Virginia now, like Lily’s Place or the Martinsburg initiative.”
The bill provides more federal aid to state and local law enforcement. Representative Bob Latta says, “Because one of the things we’ve got to do is stem the flow of these drugs coming into the country, especially Fentanyl. And we know that Fentanyl is a killer. Just a trace of it that they are putting in cocaine and heroin and marijuana – it’s killing people.”
Four of those bills in the act were championed by West Virginia’s Congressman David McKinley. He said this only continues the effectiveness of battling the crisis, and he is glad to see a president work diligently to fight it.
With billions of dollars expected to go towards this, this is expected to change the way the opioid epidemic is currently handled. McKinley says, “so when people get their pain medicine, maybe they’re not given a pill. Maybe there’s an alternative type of medicine. Those are the kinds of things that are included in this legislation. How else we can address pain. How are we going to be able to fund more Rehabilitation facilities in West Virginia. This bill has it all in that.”
There will also be a lot more money aimed at prevention and long-term treatment for addicts. That has been in short supply nationally and locally. Dr. Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing/Urban Development says, “We have a lot of programs for people who are drug addicted that last for 30-days or 60-days. That’s not adequate because the changes that occur in the brain normally take somewhere between 12 and 18 months.”
Dr. Carson saw the problem in Charleston first hand.
First Lady Melania Trump, the President and Vice President and several cabinet members have all come to West Virginia to discuss opioids. The White House says to expect more visits. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says, “Oh I think you said it exactly. It’s one of the places where we’ve seen a real impact, and we certainly want to be able to address this. This is obviously a country-wide problem. But certainly we’ve seen it be really heavily hit in West Virginia, and we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can.”
West Virginia continues to have the highest drug overdose death rate in the nation.