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Bloomberg Campaign Press Release - Mike Bloomberg Releases Plan for Tackling the Opioid Crisis

December 20, 2019

Bloomberg Meets with Community Members in Ohio, which has the Second Highest Rate of Overdose Deaths in the U.S.

Chillicothe, Ohio – Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg today traveled to Ohio, the epicenter of the opioid crisis, to announce his plans to address the opioid epidemic. The plan will expand access to treatment, develop national standards for states to gather data on opioid use and overdoses, and require insurers to remove obstacles to covering medications for opioid use disorder. Bloomberg unveiled his plan after meeting with Chillicothe Mayor Luke Feeney, and hearing from community members impacted by the opioid epidemic in a roundtable discussion.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 70,000 people died in the United States in 2017 from drug overdoses. Over 47,000 of those deaths were from opioid overdoses – more than car crashes. Ohio has the second-highest rate of overdose deaths in the U.S., behind West Virginia.

"Every day, 130 Americans die from an opioid overdose. The toll of this crisis is devastating – and unacceptable. We can't afford half measures or delays while so many people continue to suffer from addiction," said Michael Bloomberg. "My plan will provide people with medication and counseling that have been proven to help, while removing the obstacles that prevent them from getting the care they need. With stronger leadership in the White House, we can get this done and ensure that Americans live better, healthier lives."

"Our community has been one of the hardest hit by our state's opioid epidemic," said Chillicothe Mayor Luke Feeney. "We need leaders at all levels standing alongside us in this battle against addiction, to save lives and get people on the path to recovery. I'm grateful that Mike Bloomberg understands it is critical that we work together to stop this disease which plagues so many Ohio families."

Bloomberg's proposed plan removes unnecessary obstacles to medications for addiction treatment, expands access to health services, and enforces laws that require insurance coverage of mental health care. The key pillars of Mike Bloomberg's plan include:

  • Aggressively Combating the Opioid Crisis: Providing medications to treat opioid use disorder and counseling when people enter hospitals or the criminal justice system. Equipping hospitals to provide medications for opioid use disorder and treating people who suffer from addiction problems instead of incarcerating them, unless they have committed violent crimes.
  • Enforcing Federal Laws Mandating Insurance Coverage: for mental health and substance use disorders.
  • Removing Unnecessary Obstacles: Requiring insurers to remove obstacles (like prior authorization) to cover medications for opioid use disorder and removing special training requirements and limits on prescribing buprenorphine as they do other drugs.
  • Collecting Better Data: Developing national standards for states to gather data on opioid use and overdoses to understand the scope of the crisis better and see which areas need help most.

The plan announced today builds on Mike Bloomberg's approach to health care, which puts health insurance within reach of all Americans. Additionally, Mike's health care plan expands access to health care in rural areas by subsidizing care and encouraging more clinicians to practice in rural America. The plan uses proven public-health policies to improve health.

Mike Bloomberg has a proven track record of addressing this issue and, as president, will take urgent action to deal with this crisis. As Mayor of New York, in 2011, Bloomberg formed the Prescription Painkiller Abuse Task Force. He also created NYC RxStat, which combined and used relevant public-health and public-safety data to combat the problem of painkiller abuse. More recently, Mike Bloomberg's foundation is addressing the epidemic and saving lives by supporting high-impact, state-based interventions that can be replicated by other states and localities.

Read the full policy here.

Additional Quotes

"Opioids are a serious, long-term challenge, an evil and powerful enemy that demands a powerful response," said Louisville, Kentucky Mayor and Campaign Co-Chair Greg Fischer. "Local communities like Louisville are doing the best we can to solve this crisis, but we need help. Mike understands this. His plan will help accelerate the good work on the ground that we are pioneering. Increased availability of recovery services is paramount. We can't incarcerate people for being unwell. Mike knows we need to provide more treatment and diversion programs and hope for our family members, friends, and neighbors struggling with addiction," he continued. "Mike and I have talked about the opioid crisis here in Louisville, and he agrees we need to fight it with everything we've got. Affording treatment should not be the deciding factor on whether you get help or not. It takes a community, a city,and the nation working together to make epidemics like this one disappear. Mike and I agree we need to create and implement innovative programs to reduce overdoses and to get help for those who want it — quickly and without delays or impediments. Nobody should ever die from addiction. That's my goal. And it's Mike's goal, too."

"Although our community has been hit hard by the opioid crisis, we have created real, innovative, and compassionate solutions to impact our friends and neighbors positively," said Huntington, West Virginia Mayor Steve Williams. "We know how to beat this thing. Mike Bloomberg understands the importance of medically-assisted treatment and innovative solutions like our Quick Response Team. Mike believes people should be treated, not incarcerated, for addiction. I agree. He knows we need to fund efforts to help the helpers, our first responders, who are providing life-saving care and treat people suffering from addiction who are currently incarcerated. Mike understands why cities and local communities must lead the way in this very personal fight. His plan recognizes the vital role the federal government should play to support our work. Mike will enforce federal laws that require insurance coverage for mental health and substance use disorders. Addiction does not have to destroy communities. I'm excited about Mike's plan to partner at the local, state and federal level to fight opioids. He's already proven to be a great ally in this fight. I appreciate that."

"Our Quick Response Team shows there's hope in this epidemic," said Huntington, West Virginia Fire Chief Jan Rader. "Our traditional way of responding to overdoses didn't work, so we changed our approach to focus on mental health, reducing overdoses by 40% in our county. As president, Mike Bloomberg will lead America out of this crisis by amplifying local efforts like ours — efforts that are already working. Mike Bloomberg gets how urgent this crisis is, and he's ready to act to save lives from day one. I have great faith in Mike's ability as president to implement similar initiatives across the country to help even more Americans suffering."

Michael Bloomberg, Bloomberg Campaign Press Release - Mike Bloomberg Releases Plan for Tackling the Opioid Crisis Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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