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Tackling the Opioid Epidemic

Opioids are destroying communities across the country, including right here, in Suffolk Country. There are a series of actions that must be taken by the federal government to combat the crisis, either by act of Congress, executive order, or some combination of the two. These include limiting the initial distribution of drugs, providing treatment and counseling for those suffering from addiction, expanding access to rehabilitation, and helping law enforcement address this crisis.

It is outrageous that drug companies are too often part of the problem and not part of the solution. There is no reason drug companies should be pushing opioid painkillers when there are safer alternatives. Doctors should not freely prescribe and distribute opioids the way they do. We must educate people on the severity of the crisis. We must also lower the cost of naloxone so that our first responders, from towns large and small, can carry this life-saving medicine with them.

The “Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act” should be repealed. It is doing more harm than good. This is an instance where big pharmaceutical companies duped our Congress into raising the proof required to intercept large shipments of pain pills to suspicious buyers. It is an important step to repeal this harmful legislation, but Congress fails to act. It is significant that our country has moved beyond a sentiment of just blaming the victims who suffer from opioid addiction, but that alone is not enough. We must invest in the resources, time, and effort required to tackle this crisis. Long-term we must reduce the availability of the drugs while also addressing the root causes of the crisis to stem the rise of opioid abuse in America.

Finally, we must make it our mission to defend the Affordable Care Act. Through the expansion of Medicaid and removal of lifetime caps, the ACA has helped to fund opioid treatment for millions of Americans. Now, the Republican plan to repeal the ACA would slash Medicaid funding, cutting off essential healthcare services from those struggling with addiction. If their plan had passed, these patients would be left with unaffordable premiums and likely no coverage whatsoever to pay for treatment.

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“It's time Long Island had a strong voice to fight for high-paying jobs, affordable health care, high-quality education and clean air and water.”Perry GershonCandidate for Congress, NY-1