Warren says an aggressive response is needed to turn the tide on the opioid epidemic.
If she is elected President of the United States, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) will spend $100 billion on responding to the opioids crisis, she said in a post on Medium.
Warren’s plan is an updated version of the CARE Act, which she introduced along with Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD). The legislation never gained much traction, but Warren said that an aggressive response is needed to turn the tide on the opioid epidemic.
Warren compared her opioid response plan to the Ryan White CARE Act, which funded a national response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and ultimately helped to bring down the death rate.
“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,” Warren wrote. “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.”
Warren said that her plan would provide “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.”
The funds would be distributed over 10 years to governments and nonprofits that are working to respond to the opioid epidemic. However, organizations would be given leeway to use the funding in the way that they believe would be most effective.
“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,” Warren wrote. “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.”
In addition to crafting a proactive response, Warren said that she would like to see the executives of companies that have contributed to the opioid epidemic held criminally responsible.
“The opioid epidemic teaches us that too often in America today, if you have money and power, you can take advantage of everyone else without consequence. I think it’s time to change that,” she wrote.
She continued, “Rather than blaming the victims, we need to make sure a crisis like this never happens again.”