Senators Seek Opioid Fee to Aid Treatment

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With money tight and the opioid epidemic continuing, Connecticut’s U.S. senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, both Democrats, are proposing a new way to create as much as $1 billion for addiction treatment, the Hartford Courant reports. They want a fee of 1 cent per milligram of active opioid be added to prescriptions. The money would go to treatment. “We have to start thinking out of the box in terms of getting the necessary funding to combat this crisis,” Murphy said. “The amount of money states and the federal government are putting into opioid treatment now simply isn’t doing the job.”

“There are a lot of prescriptions out there, so this tiny fee, when you apply it to every pain medication, ultimately garners a billion a year,” Murphy estimates. The proposed bill, dubbed the LifeBOAT Act, comes at a time in which Connecticut, like other states, has seen a steady increase in the number of fatal overdoses, attributed largely to opioid abuse. The chief medical examiner showed that those deaths increased for a fifth year in a row. In 2016, heroin played a role in 504 deaths. The money collected if the bill passed would be distributed in the form of grants that would fund efforts including establishing new treatment facilities, expanding access to long-term, residential programs, and recruiting and training mental health providers who provide substance abuse treatment.

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