By Toledo Blade
Before Congress recesses for the election season, it has one very important piece of business to conduct — the funding of the recently passed Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act.
There should be no debate, no partisan bickering. Failure by congressmen to reach a deal to fund the opioid overdose fight would be irresponsible and a dramatic failure in meeting the needs of the constituents they serve.
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) led a bipartisan coalition of 38 House members in requesting that additional addiction treatment funds be included in a budget deal currently being negotiated to keep the government running past the end of the month. The congressmen submitted their request in a letter to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.
Without adding the additional funds into a budget deal, CARA will likely not be funded until well after the election season is over.
“We cannot afford to needlessly delay, to not pursue every opportunity to address this epidemic with appropriate treatment funds,” Miss Kaptur said. “This epidemic will get worse, from what medical professionals and law enforcement officials in northern Ohio tell me. There’s no excuse for Congress to not provide more funds, and faster. We cannot afford to wait.”
There is plenty of evidence that the epidemic is, indeed, getting worse. Early this month, Akron had 21 overdoses on a Friday night from heroin likely laced with the highly toxic and dangerous fentanyl and carfentanil. Dealers have been cutting their heroin with the synthetic opioids to give it an extra boost and to stretch their supply.
In August, Cuyahoga County had a record 52 heroin-related deaths. The county is expecting to have more than 500 die from the drug this year, more than doubling the numbers from 2015. Toledo recently had its first overdose from carfentanil, which is 100 times stronger than fentanyl.
This is all evidence that the problem is very real — and immediate — and congressional representatives are elected in order to respond to problems and needs of their constituents. Congressmen need to act immediately. To not respond with urgency to this life-and-death issue would be a grave dereliction of duty.