Opioids are on the White House agenda Thursday, as President Trump plans to talk with members of his administration about the crisis. State legislators, treatment providers, families and many others around the U.S. will be listening, NPR reports. The administration’s opioid efforts have so far yielded no new money. Congress authorized funds in its recent budget deal, but those dollars aren’t flowing yet, and states are struggling. The Oklahoma agency in charge of substance abuse has been told by the state legislature to cut more than $2 million from this year’s budget. That has the providers of opioid addiction treatment on edge. “Treatment dollars are scarce,” says Randy Tate of the Oklahoma Behavioral Health Association, which represents treatment providers.
In just three years, Oklahoma’s agency in charge of funding opioid treatment has seen more than $27 million dollars chipped away from its budget — thanks to legislative gridlock, slashed state taxes and a drop in oil prices that caused a loss in state tax revenue. Getting treatment providers to open up shop in rural areas is hard even in good times, and more financial uncertainty could make that problem worse. In the meantime, according to a state commission’s opioid report, just 10 percent of Oklahomans who need addiction treatment are getting it. That statistic is similar in Colorado. As 2018 began, Colorado’s escalating opioid crisis got worse, when the state’s largest drug and alcohol treatment provider, Arapahoe House, shut its doors. The facility provided treatment to 5,000 people a year. Denise Vincioni, who directs another treatment center, the Denver Recovery Group, says other facilities have scrambled to pick up the patients. Arapahoe House’s CEO blamed its closure on the high cost of care and poor government reimbursement for services.