People were dying from opioid abuse and overdoses long before government and local officials took notice. Only when data started to be collected on opioid related deaths did officials begin to take action. The Council of Economic Advisers recently reported the cost of addiction to be more than six times larger than the most recent estimate. A 2016 private study, they said, estimated that prescription opioid overdoses, abuse and dependence in the United States in 2013, cost $78.5 billion.
The council furthered its research. The cost of the crisis is significantly larger because overdose deaths have doubled in the past decade, and some of the previous studies didn’t reflect the number of fatalities which pointed directly to opioids.
A new figure on the cost of the epidemic in 2015 was released by the White House on October 20, 2017. It stated that the true cost of the epidemic was one half a trillion dollars. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams was asked, during an interview with National Public Radio (NPR), what Trump is doing about the opioid epidemic. Dr. Adams responded by saying, “The administration has already spent more $800 million on prevention treatment and Naloxone for first responders.”
The NPR interviewer noted that Patrick Kennedy, the former congressman who served on the White House Opioid Commission, suggested it would take at least $10 billion to adequately fight the epidemic. Dr. Adams said that the President has already asked for a significant amount of money to combat the epidemic, but that ultimately it was up to congress. “Congress isn’t going to give us enough money to tackle this epidemic alone. It’s going to take federal state and local efforts,” he said.
Asked what bill the President has supported to appropriate funding for the epidemic, Dr. Adams said, “The Affordable Care Act repeal that the president put forward had [has] funding attached to it for attacking the opioid epidemic.” The interview challenged him by stating that the repeal would have gutted medicaid. After saying that the latter was some people’s perception, Dr. Adams continued with the premise that the funding was up to congress.
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