State Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron) today responded to the release of the Congressional report “Dying waiting for treatment” calling Ohio “the face of the nation’s opioid epidemic.” Issued Monday by Senate Committee on Finance staff, the report released highlighted the need for additional federal funding to support policies recently passed in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (CARA) for the treatment of opioid addiction.
“Sadly, this report highlights what our courts, treatment providers, law enforcement agencies, public health officials and some elected officials in our state already know: Ohio is the poster-child for the lack of mental healthcare and treatment for those struggling with opioid and heroin addiction,” said Johnson. “But we don’t need another report or more startling statistics to validate what first responders and family members are dealing with on the front lines every day. We need action from state leaders, and that includes treating opioid and heroin addiction like the statewide emergency that it is and releasing emergency funding until we can get back to work at the Statehouse in a unified and strategic way.”
The Congressional report notes the state actions taken thus far to address the opioid epidemic, including the Governor’s Cabinet Opiate Action Team (GCOAT), but concludes: “with the mortality rate…totaling 2,774 opioid-related deaths in 2014 alone, it is unlikely these steps will be enough.”
In September, Johnson and House Democratic lawmakers called on Gov. John Kasich to declare the opioid epidemic a statewide emergency and increase funding for fighting the crisis. Democratic House and Senate members also highlighted additional legislative options to address the crisis, including the passage of Senate Bill 319, the opioid and heroin omnibus legislation that has been lingering in the legislature since late May.
“Not only should we be focused on allocating the necessary state resources and capital toward fighting the epidemic as soon as possible, but we also need to push for Congress to fulfill the promises laid out in CARA,” Johnson continued. “Ohioans are losing loved ones to the opioid crisis every day and we cannot leave any dollars on the table over political disagreements.”
According to the report, Ohio would be eligible for $45 million additional dollars if Congress were to fund the White House’s full request for $920 million over two years toward access to treatment in the states.