Our community has been at the epicenter of the drug epidemic that’s swept across the country. It’ll take someone who understands the problem in all of its complexities to make sure we get the right kind of resources to fight back, and that’s Max Rose. As Chief of Staff at Brightpoint Health, Max helped bring a 24/7 drug recovery center to Staten Island—the first of its kind. He’ll take the same determination and innovative thinking to Congress, fighting for actual solutions to a national emergency that destroys lives one family at a time.
Just as FDR used the power of government to eradicate Polio, and as Congress passed the Ryan White Act to help curb the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Max believes we need a national commitment to beating opioids that includes:
Ensuring not one more life is needlessly lost to a preventable overdose by:
- Reducing federal roadblocks to medically-assisted treatment: Suboxone is a life-saving drug that can diminish cravings for and withdrawal from opioids. Federal regulations restrict the amounts that doctors can prescribe and do not reflect the fact that in today’s healthcare world, Physician Assistants and Nurses provide a large portion of critical care. Congress must roll back these restrictions to ensure that victims of the opioid crisis are able to get the treatment they need to beat their addiction. Expanding access for Medical Marijuana is also critical and has been proven to help in communities hit hardest by the epidemic.
- Improving prescriber training: Since 1999, US opioid prescription rates have tripled, and these prescriptions are often the gateway to addiction. Congress must mandate continuing pain medication training for doctors, and create resources for medical and pharmacy schools to eliminate over-prescribing.
- Building on local successes: District Attorney Mike McMahon has launched multiple campaigns and partnerships to raise public awareness and prevent overdoses including SIHOPE, and helped equip NYPD officers with the Naloxone treatments they used to save nearly 300 lives last year. He was also a national pioneer in treating overdose cases as crimes, allowing law enforcement to conduct homicide investigations and bring those responsible to justice. Thanks in large part to his efforts, overdose deaths on Staten Island fell more than 25 percent last year. As a Congressman, I’ll introduce legislation to provide more federal funding for DA offices across the country, so that they finally have the resources necessary to implement local solutions to this crisis.
Getting victims of the opioid epidemic the support and treatment they need by:
- Ensuring the federal funding necessary to end the crisis: The opioid epidemic is the largest public health crisis facing our generation. Ending it once and for all will require the federal government to ensure that all aspects of treatment, from grant programs for building clinics and expanding recovery services, to research by SAMSA and the NIH, are adequately funded. Just as the Ryan White Act provided funding to improve the availability of care for HIV/AIDS patients, so too must a new spending bill unleash the full power of the federal government to eliminate the scourge of the opioid crisis.
- Improving provider communication and expand treatment options: As a Congressman, I’ll lead the effort to repeal the IMD exclusion, and fight to fund new outpatient clinics that handle substance abuse, mental health treatment, primary care, and wrap-around programs under one roof, improving inter-party communication that studies have shown is our greatest obstacle to eradicating this crisis.
- Maintaining and expanding healthcare access: Victims of the opioid epidemic must be able to pay for treatment, and in New York, that often means funding through Medicaid. Medicaid funding is responsible for 38% of NY’s opioid fight funding, per the Kaiser Family Foundation, and Medicaid covers 4/10 adults with opioid addiction. Congress must resist Republican efforts to eliminate funding to Medicaid, because without a fully-funded healthcare system, this crisis will only get worse.
- Expanding clinic access in underserved areas: Researchers at Columbia University found that the opioid epidemic touches Staten Islanders “from all neighborhoods, races, ages, and socioeconomic backgrounds,” and that “some areas with the most overdoses are also the most underserved in terms of opioid addiction treatment clinics.” There are only two methadone providers on the island, and just three inpatient clinics, only one of which offers detox. We need funding to double the number of clinics on Staten Island, to ensure that anyone impacted by this crisis has the resources they need to get better.
Bringing drug companies and drug dealers to justice by:
- Supporting a federal lawsuit against opioid manufacturers: Congress must hold drug corporations financially and criminally responsible for the death and destruction they’ve brought to our country. Just as the government sued cigarette companies for the damage they willfully inflicted on Americans, it’s time for the federal government to join cities and states across the country, Republicans and Democrats alike, in forcing these drug companies, who misled the scientific community about the harmful effects of opioids for decades, to reform, pay up, and be brought to justice.
- Empowering law enforcement to stop the flow of fentanyl-laced drugs: As the opioid epidemic has progressed, many people have moved from painkillers to cocaine and heroin. But much of this heroin and cocaine is now laced with the opioid fentanyl — often without the knowledge of the people buying the drug. Congress must arm law enforcement agencies and the US Postal Service with the manpower and technology necessary to catch fentanyl as it’s being transported.
- Changing federal laws that handcuff law enforcement: Both parties let drug industry lobbyists write laws that prevented the DEA from going after prescription drug distributers who fail to report suspicious orders from pharmacies, and both parties have failed to follow New York’s lead and create a federal I-STOP program to prevent doctor shoppers and pharmacy shoppers from illegally obtaining and filling multiple prescriptions. Congress must stop protecting drug companies that write large campaign checks, and instead empower the DEA and other federal law enforcement agencies to adequately address and stop this crisis.