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Monday, April 11, 2016

Insufficient Funds for the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act: Congressional Genocide


 

The U.S. Senate recently voted to aid the nation’s opioid addiction crisis by passing the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act – a critical step for public health. It was developed over the span of three years. And, for once, the Senate’s passage wasn’t partisan; the bill passed by a vote of 94-1.

The bill would set up a series of grant programs to help state, local and tribal governments; nonprofit organizations and law enforcement agencies tackle different aspects of the addiction crisis.

One grant program would help communities experiencing higher than average substance use forge local prevention strategies. Another would support treatment-based alternatives to incarceration. And another would help law enforcement agencies purchase the overdose-reversing drug naloxone and train officers to administer it.

In the Athens Messenger (April 10, 2016) Ohio Senator Rob Portman discussed how the act would help the public fight the health scourge. Senator Portman highlighted his Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act and how it combats Ohio’s heroin epidemic:

“CARA expands prevention and educational efforts — particularly aimed at teens, parents and other caretakers to prevent prescription opioid abuse and the use of heroin in the first place.

“CARA increases the number of disposal sites for unwanted prescription medications to keep them out of the hands of our children and adolescents.

“CARA expands the availability of the overdose reversal drug naloxone to law enforcement agencies and first responders to save more lives.

“CARA creates new prescription drug monitoring programs to help states monitor and track prescription drug diversion and over-prescribing.

“CARA identifies and treats individuals suffering from substance use disorders in our criminal justice system and expands diversion and education efforts to give individuals a second chance.

“CARA devotes additional resources to proven treatment and recovery programs at the state and local level for the millions of addicts who are not now receiving help.

“CARA helps women and babies by expanding treatment options for expectant and postpartum women struggling with addiction.

“Lastly, CARA provides additional help to veterans, setting up more Veterans Treatment Courts that help break the cycle of drug abuse through a program of rigorous treatment and personal accountability.


The legislation next moves to the House, where it has deep support in both parties.The House is likely to pass the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act by a similarly wide margin.

BUT …

Now some say things must be done to correct the Senate’s “mistakes,” namely by attaching the funding the bill needs.

Republicans say $400 million from last year’s Omnibus bill can be used to fund the programs, but Democrats say additional funding is needed. An amendment to provide an additional $600 million was defeated by Senate Republicans.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who introduced the bill, said, “Let’s not pretend there is money for this.”

(“Addiction and Recovery Act Passes.” Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. April 10, 2016.)

The Alton Illinois Telegraph also reported that the Senate bill includes no funding for its range of grant programs.

(“Addiction and Recover Act isn’t perfect.” The Alton Telegraph. April 09, 2016.)

 

In its editorial, the Telegraph related the following:

“Many of the bill’s provisions could still be funded as the Senate completes its appropriations process later this year. But if recent history is any guide, an omnibus spending bill will come together at the last minute — potentially in the lame duck session after this fall’s elections. That means a delay for any funding ultimately appropriated to tackle a national drug crisis that shows no sign of abating."

There's no point to anti-heroin legislation if there's no money. How absurd is it to expect an unfunded bill to make any difference in the fight against this health epidemic? The lack or urgency on the part of Congress to address the death and destruction caused by addiction is unforgivable. No money available? The same old excuse speaks of underlying partisanship and the stigma of drug abuse.

Reuters says the Defense Department budget for 2016 is $573 billion. President Barack Obama’s 2017 proposal ups it to $582 billion. By comparison, China spent around $145 billion and Russia around $40 billion in 2015. 
 
Republican candidate for president Ted Cruz laid out his plan for the military in February 2016 – a massive program of spending, expansion, and innovation, leavened with a healthy dose of Obama-bashing and promises to subordinate civilian bureaucrats to military leaders. Whether Cruz’s plan is fiscally reasonable or proportional to threats to the U.S., however, is a different question. 
 
Now, naturally, Cruz didn’t put a price tag on his plan, though he acknowledged it would not be cheap. One military expert, Benjamin Friedman of the CATO Institute, estimated that the Cruz plan would cost roughly $2.6 trillion over the next eight years.

As he does with many of his policies, presidential candidate Donald Trump seems to lack a real plan for defense spending. Of course to try to secure the nomination, Trump has pointed out that Washington can build and maintain an amazing military arsenal for a fraction of what it’s paying now. But he has no solid ideas of how to cut spending and prefers to say: “We’re going to make our military ... so powerful that we’re never going to have to use it.”

God knows the United States of America must maintain a strong defense. Terrorist threats are real as are posturings from nations such as North Korea and Russia. No one wants to sacrifice safety by depleting military spending.

HOWEVER …

The biggest present threat to our citizens is drug abuse, addiction, and overdose. We can no longer deny that the federal government must immediately allocate significant funds to overcoming this health epidemic. Failure to act immediately will jeopardize the lives of thousands of Americans. The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control report that from 2000 to 2014 nearly half a million people died from drug overdoses. 78 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. Think about a foreign war that would require such a sacrifice.

According to the CDC, since 1999, the amount of prescription opioids sold in the U.S. nearly quadrupled, yet there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans report. Deaths from prescription opioids—drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone—have also quadrupled since 1999.

No money appropriated for new programs and better treatment? This makes me sick. Ill. In fact, it continues to make me wonder just how far the FDA, Big Pharma, lobbyists, and politicians are willing to advance the sins of their greed.

Call me a conspiracy theorist if you like. I want to tell every responsible citizen just what our Prescription Nation with its willing players' bloody hands continues to do to choke the life out of American communities. And, excuse me, but I want to say “Fuck you” if you sit idly by and do nothing to stop the genocide besides saying, “People are going to take drugs anyway.”

I could cite (and have already cited many times in this blog) reason after reason people remain indifferent to the carnage, yet the “feel good” and “zero pain tolerance” public is largely unresponsive to the problem of opioid drug abuse because they do not want to become active. Pain killers are arguably the best tool the government has for controlling the population – they sedate, calm and distract the population from realizing there is something very wrong – something to which they are enslaved.

“Soma – Christianity without tears.”

“Euphoric, narcotic, pleasantly hallucinant.” 

"Bottle of mine, it's you I've always wanted!
Bottle of mine, why was I ever decanted?
Skies are blue inside of you,
The weather's always fine;
For
There ain't no Bottle in all the world
Like that dear little Bottle of mine." 

Quotations from Brave New World, Aldous Huxley (1932)



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