Vern Buchanan announces $69 million in grants to fight opioid abuse
A lethal dose of heroin next to a lethal dose of fentanyl (Photo: New Hampshire State Police)

Money part of nearly $1 billion approved for states.

President Donald Trump has approved $69 million in federal funding to combat opioid abuse in Florida.

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, co-chair of Florida’s Congressional Delegation, announced the grant on Thursday.

“These funds will help address a devastating problem throughout Florida,” Buchanan said.

“The opioid crisis has destroyed too many families and lives. I will continue my work in Congress to make sure Florida has the resources it needs to help save lives and fight this epidemic.”

The funding comes as part of $932 million in state opioid response grants spread across the country. The funding must go to efforts to combat opioid misuse, overdoses and deaths.

“Our country is seeing the first drop in overdose deaths in more than two decades, more Americans are getting treatment for addiction, and lives are being saved,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

“At the same time, we are still far from declaring victory. We will continue executing on the Department’s 5-Point strategy for combating the opioid crisis, and laying the foundation for a healthcare system where every American can access the mental healthcare they need.”

Overdose deaths from prescription drugs dropped 5 percent from 2017 to 2018, with opioid deaths dropping 2.8 percent in the same time. Azar credits in part a 5-Point Strategy to Combat the Opioids Crisis.

But problems aren’t disappearing everywhere.

The funding has been a priority for Buchanan, as his district a few years ago served as the epicenter of the crisis within Florida. Manatee County had nearly 1,000 heroin overdoses in 2016.

And the Manatee Sheriff’s Office reports deaths from opioids have increased in 2019.

Buchanan sponsored the Centralized Opioid Guidance Act, passed and signed into law last year, which requires Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to create resource guides and federal prescription guidelines.

He also supported both the INTERDICT Act and STOP Act, aimed at stopping the import of opioids and synthetic drugs.

In April, Buchanan introduced new legislation with Democratic U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton of California that would pressure China to stem the flow of synthetic opioids like Fentanyl.

The new round of grants follows $400 million in funding from HHS to community health centers, academic institutions and rural organizations for establishing more substance abuse programs.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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