September 12, 2018
The Senate’s response to the opioid epidemic — a sweeping package that contains 70 bills from Republican and Democratic lawmakers eager to be part of the solution to the nation’s greatest public health crisis — is expected to easily pass this week.
Reaction to the bill — and a similar measure passed by the House in June — has been mixed. The Chicago Tribune editorial board summed it up best Tuesday, writing: “The package is heartening and frustrating: heartening because it offers some positive steps, and frustrating because it doesn’t do more.”
Most public health advocates and experts say that while the bill tackled some important issues, it’s a relatively incremental effort. To really address an opioid crisis that, according to preliminary data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in August, killed more than 49,000 of the 72,000 overall deaths from drug overdoses in 2017, would require a considerable infusion of new funding for treatment programs and a long-term commitment from the federal government.
Daniel Raymond of the Harm Reduction Coalition said it’s hard to tell a city losing its citizens to drug overdoses that help is coming in the form of a competitive grant pilot program that it may or may not receive.
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