There has been a lot of awareness about the opioid crisis in the United States and around the world, and it has definitely gotten the attention of the White House. After the announcement of the opioid crisis being a National Health Emergency this past year, local, state, and national representatives have been working together to try and halt the opioid crisis from expanding.
So far, the annual budget has allocated for a $3 billion budget to battle the opioid crisis. It seems like a massive amount of money, but is it actually enough?
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Opioid Crisis – The Issue with Funding
When the Trump Administration first announced a full-fledged attack on the opioid crisis during his presidential campaign, he had many people believed that there would be a solid plan of action.
However, after the announcement of the National Health Emergency, many people have been wondering just what the White House plans to do about it. For example, since the announcement was that of the opioid crisis being a national emergency rather than a national crisis, it required no additional funding be pulled from disaster or emergency relief funds.
Since then, the bureaucratic system has been extremely slow moving, and nothing more has really happened other than “increased advertising”, Just Say No propaganda and claims that China and Mexico are to blame.
This issue with funding has been a major question on many people’s minds when the discussion of how to overturn the opioid crisis is brought into play.
As of March 21st, Congress released the newest omnibus bill. In other words, a spending bill that covers multiple areas of interest. The total amount allocated on the bill, $1.3 trillion, intended to cover everything from border patrol to defense to the opioid crisis.
While President Trump took to Twitter to report that he was considering vetoing the bill as it had no funds in it to build a border wall to Mexico, which would have entailed an entire government shutdown. Luckily, he decided against the veto, and we are now left with our omnibus budget for the year.
So with that being said, $3 billion is being directed towards the opioid crisis. Of that $3 billion:
- $1.4 billion will go towards the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- $1 billion will go towards a new State Opioid Response Grant program
- $160 million will go towards the Mental Health Block Program
- $500 million will go towards opioid addiction research at the National Institutes of Health
- $350 million will go towards opioid overdose prevention, surveillance, and improving state prescription drug monitoring programs through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- $415 million will be directed toward improving access to addiction treatment in rural areas through the Health Resources and Services Administration
- $100 million will go to the Administration for Children and Families to assist children who are coming from drug addicted homes
- $299.5 million will go towards the Department of Justice’s anti-opioid grant
- $500 million will go to the Veterans Affairs Department for mental health
- $94 million will go to the FDA to inspect and patrol the mailing system for illicit drugs
Opioid Crisis – Is $3 Billion Enough?
While on a small scale it may seem like more than enough to facilitate some real improvement towards battling the opioid crisis, when compared with budgets allocated for other illnesses, it is small potatoes. For example, the annual budget for HIV is close to $32 billion.
One of the main issues with the $3 Billion, is that while yes, it will help kick-start a lot of these programs into action, the opioid crisis didn’t happen overnight. This particular budget seems to have been created to only last through the year. We could all hope and pray that the opioid crisis could be resolved in a year, however, seeing as how it is the worst drug epidemic, amassing more deaths in 2016 than guns, car crashes, and HIV/AIDS combined, we might need a little bit more time and work.
Where Should the Money Be Going?
The good news is, while the budget may not be as much as is needed, the ideas and the direction of the flow of that budget are all firmly grounded in reasonable areas. First and foremost, is wider access to substance abuse treatment.
According to the surgeon general, in 2016, only 10% of people in the U.S. that struggled with a substance abuse disorder received treatment.
A big question mark in this area comes along with the aspect of insurance, ObamaCare, and how treatment is paid for.
After this is the big issue of the availability and overprescribing practices of addictive prescription medications. Funneling part of the budget towards increasing access towards state medication and drug monitoring programs is a huge step. A majority of states, at this time, are not required to check these services when a patient requests a prescription. This encourages a lot of people to try out doctor shopping, where they receive multiple different prescriptions from multiple different doctors.
With more budgeting going towards underserved areas and addressing children who grow up in addict households, this could potentially help to curb a continuation of the opioid crisis in the future, however, we are still focused on what to do today.
A Steady, Long-term Budget for the
While many state and local legislators are happy to see that financial change is coming their way, there is still discussion over whether this is a short-term solution to a long-term problem. While yes, this boost in the budget will definitely help many states to get back on their feet after throwing millions into opioid crisis, what will happen once this money runs out, which, unfortunately, might be sooner rather than later?
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