Inject money into fighting epidemic 77

Admittedly, there are times when it’s not only impolite but downright inappropriate to bring up money.

However, when presenting major policy recommendations or declaring a state of emergency, a framework for funding absolutely must be front and center.

This week, the state Department of Health and Human Resources released a comprehensive 27-page Opioid Response Plan for West Virginia.

It’s obvious this plan is the result of a lot of work and its authors did their due diligence.

Not to mention, it is inclusive, with public comments throughout and results of a collaborative effort of a panel of national and regional experts.

It highlights 12 high priority, short-term recommendations. Those recommendations are categorized under prevention, early intervention, treatment, overdose reversal, supporting families with substance use disorder and recovery.

Last fall, President Trump declared opioid abuse a national public health emergency and announced steps to control what he called the worst drug crisis in U.S. history.

Trump’s declaration on Oct. 26, 2017, was effective for

90 days, but can be renewed.

It primarily allowed the government to redirect resources and expand medical services in rural areas.

In both these instances, the failure to put public funding where our mouth is was obvious.

How can we hope to implement the state’s Opioid Response Plan or the president’s declaration if we’re not going to put a new nickel in it?

If the administrations in Washington, D.C., or Charleston are waiting on last-minute budget negotiations to bring new dollars to fight this scourge, that won’t work. Preparing a response plan and declaring a state of emergency is not enough.

Suggestions to move money around just smack of another case of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Some will decry any new tax or fees to fund these state recommendations or national efforts. But if we hope to turn the corner on the opioid epidemic, it’s going to take money to provide and expand access to treatment.

One idea that has made the rounds in Congress is imposing a slight fee on opioids in prescription pains pills. Another would be to tax the manufacturers and wholesale distributors of these drugs.

No, we don’t think this problem can be solved solely by throwing wads of money at it.

It will take much more than that, including more awareness about the risks and even developing new forms of pain relief.

But without further public funding, this crisis will get a whole lot worse, before it gets better.

The full report on state’s Opioid Response Plan can be found at dhhr.wv.gov/bph.

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