The National Governors Association made the issue of opioid addiction the center of discussion in its summer meeting this week. The problem is one that brings leaders together from both parties.
The fight against synthetic opioids, largely taking place at the state level, took center stage at this week’s National Governors Association Summer Meeting in Rhode Island.
“This problem is tearing apart families from one side of the country to the other,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said at the event on Thursday, according to U.S. News & World Report. “This is one of the biggest problems to ever affect our country.”
The discussion often focused on the fact that the issue affects all walks of life. During a panel discussion, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) noted a recent encounter she had with a successful business owner whose son had fallen into the trap of opioid abuse. The encounter happened when the primary topic at hand was business growth—not opioids.
“I was talking to the owner of a thriving and successful business”” Raimondo explained, according to Rhode Island Public Radio. “He’s a well-off guy in a well-off suburb. At the end, he pulled me aside and said, ‘Governor, keep plugging on the opioid issue.’”
This week’s discussion, which has been frequent at the state and local levels in recent years, took on a degree of fresh urgency because of the current legislative environment in Washington. As governors from both parties were meeting, the Senate GOP was discussing the latest version of its healthcare bill. While the bill includes funding for opioid treatment, the timing of its reported rollbacks struck Democratic governors, like North Carolina’s Roy Cooper, as questionable.
“The first thing I’ve called for is treatment, and the first thing we have to realize is we cannot have millions of Americans lose their healthcare coverage and still effectively attack this crisis,” Cooper said, according to Rhode Island Public Radio.
Republican governor of Massachusetts, Charlie Baker, who has seen some success with his state’s opioid treatment strategies, noted that whatever the national political climate is, there’s still much that states can do to help take on the issue.
“We have not treated the study and the research of addiction with quite the same focus as we’ve treated cardiovascular disease or other kinds of cancer … we need much better data on what works and why,” Baker said at the event, according to U.S. News & World Report.