CINCINNATI -- Sen. Elizabeth Warren said using $100 billion over the next decade to fight the opioid epidemic and pumping funds to those on the front lines would be the “best money” the federal government ever spent.
The Massachusetts Democrat, alongside Richard Cordray, a Democratic candidate for governor, visited The David and Rebecca Barron Center for Men Friday to discuss tactics to alleviate the opioid epidemic on a national level.
Warren’s proposed legislation is modeled after Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act, which provided medical care and support to those living with HIV/AIDS.
Those with substance use disorders, similarly to those with HIV/AIDS in the 1980s, live with a stigma attached to them, Warren said.
Warren said the legislation would allow counties and cities to get direct funding because she feels money needs to go to the people and places who try to help those with substance use disorders on a daily basis.
“The towns on the front lines, the clinics on the front lines, the shelters on the front lines, they’re the ones who know what we need … we want to authorize this money at the federal level, but push it out to the front lines to those who are doing the work,” Warren said.
In addition to the proposed legislation, Cordray said declaring a state of emergency in Ohio is crucial in order to obtain the funding and resources necessary to make an impact.
“It’s not just people who are dying … it’s people who are disabled, it’s people who are addicted, people who cannot care for their children and the school systems are having to try to care for those children or grandparents are raising children because their parents are not available,” Cordray said.
Anna Hayes knows how crucial funding is for treatment facilities.
Hayes, who has achieved 11 months of sobriety with the help of sober living houses, said she acquired six felonies while she was in active addiction.
“I’ve overdosed twice, died twice. I’ve lost many friends, but I just celebrated 11 months clean. I write now for a recovery newspaper. Two of the biggest barriers that I face are employment and housing.”
Hayes said she sometimes thinks about what her life what be like if she never started using drugs, but she said she’s found a blessing in addiction: “I learned from every program that I went to,” she said.
“I’ve gained a lot from second chances,” Hayes said. “I think everyone’s deserving of a second chance.”
The time is now, Warren said, for the federal government to partner with states like Ohio to combat opioid addiction.
“This is a time when we could make a commitment, not just locally, but make a commitment nationally that we are going to beat back this crisis that is rolling across our country, that we are going to build a better future for our children and grandchildren,” Warren said.