Clinton proposes $7.5 billion US fund to fight addiction

2 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Clinton proposes $7.5 billion U.S. fund to fight addiction.

Responding to what she called a “quiet epidemic” of heroin and prescription opiate abuse, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton proposed a $10 billion plan Wednesday to treat addicts and curb incarceration for nonviolent drug offenses. WASHINGTON: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton would launch a US$10 billion initiative to tackle drug and alcohol addiction, a problem she speaks of often on the campaign trail and which affects 23 million Americans.Clinton published an editorial this morning in a New Hampshire newspaper saying that, beginning with her first trip to the state this spring, drug addiction and its impact on families has been a consistent theme that has arisen in her meetings with voters “In state after state, this issue came up again and again — from so many people, from all walks of life, in small towns and big cities,” wrote Clinton, in the New Hampshire Union Leader.

The program, much of which would be funded by the federal government, would also help get a life-saving rescue drug into the hands of more emergency responders to improve the odds for overdose victims. Clinton’s plan would include a new US$7.5 billion federal fund to support states that launch addiction-related prevention, treatment, medical response, prescription and criminal justice initiatives. Among her myriad policy proposals addressing prevention and treatment, the 2016 Democratic front-runner is, notably, throwing her weight behind the scientific establishment in a simmering debate about the role of medicine in treating people addicted to opiates like OxyContin or heroin. The plan, announced in an op-ed in the Manchester, N.H., Union Leader newspaper, grew out of months of discussion of national drug addiction at Clinton campaign events in New Hampshire, Iowa and elsewhere. Clinton’s plan proposes to eliminate federal regulations that bar nurse practitioners and physician assistants from prescribing medications that can treat opioid addicts — a practice known as medication-assisted treatment.

Her plan to address the nearly 23 million Americans with substance abuse problems includes helping state and local governments put in place school and community-based programs to combat drug use, expanding mental health coverage to provide long-term support and making sure more emergency medical workers carry naloxone, which can prevent death from drug overdoses. The topic comes up nearly every time Clinton engages voters in public, and she has made the scourge of drug addiction a part of her stump speech. “He said his biggest worry was the rising tide of heroin addiction in the state, following a wave of prescription drug abuse,” Clinton wrote. “To be candid, I didn’t expect what came next. The plan includes spending $7.5 billion, partly paid for by reforming the criminal justice system, over 10 years to support federal-state partnerships to help prevent and treat drug addiction. Last month, the Democratic front-runner pledged to develop policies to deal with addiction and mental illness and dispatched advisers to consult medical and substance abuse experts. The consensus among the medical establishment — which includes the World Health Organization and the U.S. federal agencies that oversee and fund drug treatment — is that medication-assisted treatments such as buprenorphine and methadone, along with counseling, have shown the best results in getting addicts sober and keeping them that way.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stood in front of a barn as the sun set and told the crowd there to see Clinton that he wanted to get “very personal” about why he endorsed her. Clinton cited statistics showing that only 10 percent of the 23 million addicted Americans are getting treatment, and that in 2013, more Americans died from overdoses than car crashes. Clinton’s vision, as outlined by her campaign, would emphasize better training for healthcare workers to recognize substance abuse, and having all first responders carry naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths involving heroin increased from 3,041 in 2008 to 8,260 in 2013, the latest statistics available. “This is not new.

Clinton would direct the attorney general to issue new guidance related to nonviolent drug offenders that emphasizes treatment over incarceration, generating savings that could be used to partially fund the $10 billion initiative, her campaign said. It’s time we recognize as a nation that for too long, we have had a quiet epidemic on our hands.” People with addiction have found that treatment facilities are full and insurance companies won’t cover the cost.

The American Medical Association and the American Society for Addiction Medicine have also endorsed lifting the cap on the number of patients to whom a doctor can prescribe medication-assisted treatment. Chris Christie, a Republican presidential contender, released a new television ad casting treatment for drug addiction as a “pro-life” issue. “For those whose lives we have a chance to save, I want us to try to save those lives,” Christie says in the ad. “Because I believe every one of those lives is a precious gift from God.”

But throughout her early visits to New Hampshire and Iowa, voters repeatedly brought up the issue as a pressing concern. “When I started running, when I started thinking about this campaign, I did not believe I would be … talking about the drug abuse problem, the mental health problem and the suicide problem,” she said during a campaign stop in Iowa in May. “But I’m now convinced I have to talk about it. Participants included treatment and recovery service providers, law enforcement, people in recovery, health care policy experts and people whose lives have been touched by overdoses in some way. He added that New Hampshire loses $1.8 billion a year in revenue, employee productivity, health care costs and law enforcement costs due to untreated addiction.

Yngvild Olsen, an addiction medicine physician based in Baltimore, also worked with the Clinton campaign on the proposal. “I think it really does go a long way toward building on efforts that are now under consideration in Congress, and efforts that states have made,” she told HuffPost.

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