Kuster, Shea-Porter co-write letter calling for more funding to fight opioid epidemic
New Hampshire’s House Reps., Annie Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter, co-wrote a letter to President Trump this week, with nine other Democrats in the State House, urging greater action to address the opioid epidemic.
The letter calls for increased funding for treatment and recovery services and for Trump to end his efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
“While we appreciate that the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie finally released its interim report on July 31, we remain concerned that the Trump administration has not done enough to prioritize the opioid epidemic,” the representatives wrote.
In its report, the commission paints a stark picture of the country’s opioid epidemic, citing estimates from the Centers for Disease Control that 142 Americans die every day from a drug overdose.
“The average American would likely be shocked to know that drug overdoses now kill more people than gun homicides and car crashes combined,” the report says. “In fact, between 1999 and 2015, more than 560,000 people in this country died due to drug overdoses – this is a death toll larger than the entire population of Atlanta.”
The letter comes less than a week after the Washington Post reported Trump, “in a conversation with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto,” called New Hampshire “a drug-infested den.”
Trump’s budget proposal would reduce funding for the federal Department of Health and Human Services by over more than billion in the next decade under the presumption a new health care bill would slash Medicaid funding.
While the letter clearly is partisan in nature, state Rep. Timothy Twombly, R-Nashua, said he agrees there’s a greater need for federal funding to battle the epidemic.
“We have lots of folks that, when they need help, their parents find places outside of the state,” Twombly said. “That tells me that we don’t have enough services in the state to deal with this.”
Twombly, a member of the House Finance Committee, said he’s voted in support of providing more funds to battle opioids at the state level. But he said there’s not enough money in state to handle the magnitude of the situation.
“The problem is really severe,” Twombly said. “We lost one of our neighbors. I just can’t imagine what it feels like to lose a loved one to that.”
But fellow state Rep. Kevin Scully, R-Nashua, said he doesn’t believe the federal government needs to do more.
“I think this has to be done at the local level, at the community level,” Scully said.
If anything, Scully said, the federal government should provide block grants, which come as a lump sum that the state could use at its own discretion.
“I think the federal government should do what it does best, which is control of the country’s borders to keep drugs out of America,” he said.
The state’s upcoming budget, he said, “understands the problem” and has allocated resources appropriately.